Mitrione takes thuggish style into UFC battle

Matt Mitrione knees Kimbo Slice in their heavyweight bout at UFC 113 at the Bell Centre in...

Matt Mitrione knees Kimbo Slice in their heavyweight bout at UFC 113 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. (File photo)

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:13 PM ET

OTTAWA - If there was to be a catchy one-word handle for the next Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view, UFC 137: Frustration may be most fitting.

With the main event changing twice in the past six weeks and much of the pre-fight hype having more to do with Nick Diaz’ truancy rate for press conferences than the actual card, there are few that have not felt some level of annoyance.

The fact that two Canucks were forced from the card due to injury — Montreal’s Georges St. Pierre, who was to put his belt on the line against Carlos Condit, and London’s Sam Stout, who was to face Denis Siver — is especially upsetting.

But amid the see-saw of personnel changes and billing, heavyweights Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo are quietly finishing their training camps and getting ready for their Oct. 29 tilt.

Mitrione is quickly becoming a fan favourite with his thuggish style and ever-present grin.

With five straight UFC wins — four by (T)KO — could a win over Kongo catapult him into title contention?

“The awesome thing about that question is I don’t get paid to worry about that,” says Mitrione.

“If I go out there and beat Kongo, then it’s a question to worry about. If I get my ass kicked, then that conversation is over. That question is way beyond my mind.”

With St. Pierre’s title fight scrapped from the card and B.J. Penn vs. Nick Diaz moving to top billing, Mitrione now finds himself in the co-main event of the evening.

He insists the billing doesn’t bother him.

“To be honest, it doesn’t matter if I’m the co-main or main event,” says the 33-year-old with a perfect 5-0 MMA record.

“I’ve competed in the NFL and I’ve competed in front of 100,000 people in Michigan. It doesn’t matter where the fight is, you just don’t want to get beat up by Cheick Kongo. That’s my primary focus.”

Kongo, at 16-6-2 as a pro, is a tall striker with knockout power and is coming off a first-round KO of fellow kickboxer Pat Barry.

“It was a beautiful comeback,” says Mitrione of the Barry/Kongo fight.

“It showed me that Cheick’s resilient, he’s got a ton of heart. That’s what it showed me more than anything else. All it showed me was that if he’s in trouble, he’s very active and you really have to work to get that finish against him.”

As for a gameplan, Mitrione says that will be dictated once the cage door shuts.

“If he’s kicking my ass standing up, I’ll take him down and try to make him pregnant,” says Mitrione.

“It depends where the fight is going. You have plans and it usually all goes out the window when you start to scrap.”

UFC 137 also features another heavyweight battle between Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Roy “Big Country” Nelson.

The event is available in Canada on pay-per-view.

DON'T GET PUNCHED IN THE NOSE

B.J. Penn has no problem with Nick Diaz’ wacky ways stealing the spotlight for their UFC 137 main event. Diaz has nabbed many of the headlines for missing or showing up late to press events. “I know Nick personally. I know Nate Diaz. Whatever they do, they’re themselves. It’s no problem. The only thing that bothers me is when Nick Diaz punches me in the nose in the Octagon.”

DIAZ DISSES BELT

Diaz says he has no use for his Strikeforce welterweight belt. The reigning champ — whose Strikeforce belt will not be on the line when he fights Penn in the UFC — says: “I don’t care about the Strikeforce belt. I never even put it on. B.J. can have it.”

GEORGES OUT

Georges St. Pierre’s injuries will sideline him until early 2012. According to sportsnet.ca, St. Pierre suffered a hamstring pull along with a knee injury that has him looking at a February return.

UFC IN 3D

The UFC will be hitting American theatre screens in 3D in the new year. The fight club announced a partnership with Cinedigm Digital Cinema to broadcast four pay-per-views a year in 3D. The first event will take place Feb. 4 in a yet-to-be-determined fight card. No word on Canadian theatres that will carry the fight.


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