Matt Mitrione gets the opportunity of a lifetime to claim the biggest scalp in heavyweight MMA this weekend when Russian icon Fedor Emelianenko returns to the cage for their Bellator 172 main event in San Jose, California. Yesterday, Mitrione met with some of the MMA media to explain how he’s prepared for the biggest fight of his career…
Are you ready to go?
“Absolutely man. Really good camp, great preparation. Found the mix of truing partners I felt like I needed and everything is good.”
No workout today, is that part of your strategy?
“I really don’t ever do open workouts. I just come out, stretch and chill, answer some questions. I’ll have a little workout later, about te same time as when I’ll fight, but that’s about it.”
Now that it’s fight week and there’s a legend on the other side of the cage, does this one feel kind of special?
“No. It’s just another day at the office. I think this is the first time I’ve fought in California, so that’s a title different. But other than that I’m hanging out, same crew, same people, same whatever.”
How did you get ready for this fight, preparing for the greatest of all time?
“Ive prepped for the early 2000’s Fedor. And that’s what I expect. If he’s not that when then I it will be a shame as I’m in the best shape as I’ve ever been. But he respects his name and his legacy so I don’t believe he would do it if he wasn’t in good shape. I’ve hear it all. I heard he only trained a month, that he’s in the best shape of his life. All kinds of stuff. But I see it like those last couple of fights were him throwing the ring rust off and he’s going to come into this fight throwing fire, like he always does.”
Is it not intimidating fighting a guy with so most mystique?
“Not at all. I’m just excited to fight somebody different. I’m sick of fighting the same guys in training all the time. I wanna fight somebody different – and get paid for it!”
Is there a chance you may get enamored by him?
“I won’t. The only person I ever got enamored by was BJ Penn, and I’m never going to fight him. I only ever really saw Fedor as an opponent, like all other heavyweights. There’s a chance I may fight all of them at one stage or another so I can’t be in awe of any of them.”
This fight will be watched worldwide due to his star power. Is that something on your mind?
“I don’t suffer from anxiety. I don’t get nervous. I’m a pretty even keel. The occasion won’t get to me. I’ve played (football) in front of 100,000 people and been booed and cheered, so the size of the event won’t get to me.”
Will you not really be able to savor the moment then?
“I’m sure a month down the road I’ll be able to look back on and think, ‘well, that was kind of dope.’ Or maybe afterwards in the bar over beer together. Maybe it will hit me then. But right now it’s just a fight.”
Stylistically how does this fight play out?
“I believe I’m the variable in all my fights. I’m not like other heavyweights. I’m not saying Fedor is like most other heavyweights, walking forward throwing shots, like rock ‘em sock ‘em robots. But I believe I’m the variable for sure. I’ll stay long, stay mobile. I won’t get involved in a brawl. If I do, then thats going to be bad news for me. But if I stay aware of my spacing and distance then I should be fine.”
With a win, what would be next for you?
“That’s not my gig. I don’t care. I signed for this fight without knowing who the opponent was. I’m just down to be an entertainer and make the best fights I can. Whoever they want me to scrap with I’m down for.”
So you never knew you would be fighting Fedor when you signed?
“No. They offered me the contract and asked me to sign without an opponent, a venue or a time. But they said it would be worth my while. And I had to questions. The first was, ‘is it this month?’ To which they confirmed, ‘no.’ Then I asked, ‘are you sure it’s going to be worth me time?’ And they said ‘absolutely’. So I signed and I took it. But I actually found out on TV when you all found out.”