NFL-defensive-lineman-turned-UFC-heavyweight Matt Mitrione tells Breitbart Sports that the smashmouth football displayed last weekend between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals kept his attention.
“When I’m training for a fight, I really dissolve,” Mitrione, whom Breitbart Sports glimpsed on a peaceful morning Boston walk on Thursday, explained. “I go to botanical gardens and look at Lego sculptures. I get away from anything that’s considered violence. I have so much violence in my life every day.”
But last weekend he made an exception and alloed some extra violence into his life.
“So, I watched the Bengals-Steelers game,” he told Breitbart Sports. “Yeah, you’re right, that was an aggressive game, that was a very physical game.”
The game witnessed Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict fight with Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro on the ground, drive Ben Roethlisberger’s body into the turf and out of the game, and concuss Antonio Brown on an unnecessary blow to the head. Coaches got physical with players and players allege that other players spit on them. The NFL suspended Burfict, with other malefactors possibly awaiting punishment. The CBS announcers, and critics across the country, condemned the violent game. But many viewers found it an intense, entertaining atavism that recalled football of an earlier age.
“I think the Bengals are the newfound tough guys on the block, right? Maybe a little bit more hoodlum, maybe a little bit more like a younger mentality, Like, ‘Pfff. C’mon, just gimme that,’” Mitrione figures.
“The Steelers are old-school grinders,” he reasons. “Everyone knows they’re always going to be in your face and it’s going to be a miserable experience to play them. You just have to outlast them wearing you down in order to win.”
Mitrione, nicknamed “Meathead” on The Ultimate Fighter reality television show, fights Travis Browne on the main card of Fox Sports 1’s UFC broadcast Sunday night. The 9-4 Mitrione boasts victories over Kimbo Slice and Gabe Gonzaga. But Browne, who beat Josh Barnett, Alistair Overeem, and Stefan Struve, represents a step up in competition.
Mitrione played alongside Drew Brees at Purdue and briefly for the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants in the NFL before transitioning to mixed-martial arts. He says in college he played as a run stopper who thrived on trench warfare. In the pros, he notes that such old-school games served his purposes, too, in his new role as a smaller pass rusher because they made avoiding offensive linemen easier.
“Yeah, it’s football. Like my father used to tell me like his coach would tell him, ‘Football’s a game of bumps and bruises,’” Mitrione noted while employing a fake lisp. “S— is gonna happen, man. It’s an aggressive, grimy sport.”