Matt Mitrione lives his life in the here and now.
While the former NFL lineman turned mixed martial artist appreciates all the steps taken to get where he currently stands, the heavyweight knockout artist doesn’t linger in the past. Setbacks and successes alike have combined to make the 37-year-old Indiana representative the fighter and person he is, and it’s taken every bit of what he’s experienced to shape him into his current form.
The same thing goes for his future, as anything can happen once the Octagon door closes, and Mitrione isn’t willing to exhaust himself on possibilities. Therefore, it is the present that has his attention, and that is an upcoming tilt with Travis Browne this Sunday night in Boston.
“This is do or die for me but I don’t feel any pressure whatsoever,” Mitrione said. “My career with the UFC and different financial aspects are on the line, but I’ve put such a good camp in that my focus is right where it needs to be. Working with Henri [Hooft] and my training partners like Stefan Struve have really helped me work on some specific elements for this fight. I trained with four different fighters who are 6-foot-7 or taller for this camp who are all versatile and long-range strikers, grapplers and wrestlers.
“I don’t feel any anxiety about this situation at all. I have a good fight against a guy who is ranked pretty high in the world, and I think I’m pretty damn dangerous myself. I have a tremendous amount of power and I’m as athletic as you’re going to find in my division.”
While Mitrione is coming off a loss in his most recent outing, his three straight victories leading up to his bout with Ben Rothwell back in June gave the former Purdue University standout a full head of steam that propelled him up the heavyweight ranks. And even though it would have been easy for Mitrione to shrug off the setback and stoke the fires of redemption, the Ultimate Fighter season 10 alum’s analytical nature did force him to take a look at what went wrong.
Upon further examination, Mitrione and his team pinpointed the culprit and immediately set about fixing what the affable heavyweight believes is the one major flaw in his game. It’s a wrinkle past opponents have counted on to emerge once things get underway, and Mitrione is confident the tweak made in his approach will make a huge difference on Saturday night in Boston.
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“Outside of the physical, we’ve worked a lot on the mental aspect of my game as in having patience and not pushing myself to make a mistake,” Mitrione said. “In the past, people I’ve faced have followed a game plan to outlast the storm - outlast the power - and eventually Mitrione will make a mistake to beat himself. Unfortunately, for my upcoming opponent we’ve worked on that issue and I don’t think that blueprint is necessarily going to work anymore.
“I think my range makes the difference in this fight. I can make and take away space quickly and make other people feel uncomfortable while I’m doing it. I definitely think my power is going to be a factor, but I think my explosiveness and my timing to let it go or back off will be key.”
A win over Browne would register as the biggest of his career and catapult him to a different level of visibility, but thoughts about what is next and where a victory could put him are not thoughts he’s willing to entertain. Getting caught up thinking about possibilities before action is taken isn’t a route he’s willing to travel, and that is a foundation forged from a lifetime spent in competition.
Hard work, personal investment and an unbreakable commitment to the task at hand are the only things Mitrione is putting his time and energy into, and he couldn’t be more excited to show the MMA world what he’s been working on for the past two months.
“I’m giving the most honest answer I can here in saying I don’t get paid to worry about s**t like that so it’s not really my concern. I go out there, put hands on Travis, put on a good show and let the world see what I’ve been working on. The only things I can control are my effort and my patience and I know I’ve done everything I can in regard to both. I’m excited to go out there and bring it like I always do.”