Following each episode of The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights, Team Rashad member Matt Mitrione will share his thoughts on what happened on camera and behind the scenes.
I heard that TUF was doing heavyweights so I talked to Coach Pat McPherson, Chris Lytle and Jake O’Brien, asked them their thoughts, asked them if it was something they thought I should do, which I thought it was. Chris was 100% on board. Coach Pat was a little bit reluctant but he came around. Everyone said, ‘you’re no spring chicken, go get it done.’ They contacted Ken Pavia for me to get get an interview. I’m pretty sure they brought me on as an instigator, my personality is pretty aggressive, so they brought me on as an instigator and the next thing I know I’m in Vegas for the show.
I didn’t know how many ex-NFL guys were gonna be on the show. I thought I might be the only one. In hindsight, my NFL experience probably played into it because it helps validate the sport when guys from other sports come in and do the grind and say that they love MMA.
When we got to the gym it was very much like the first day of school. The only guy I recognized was Brendan Schaub. I had met him when I was out in Vegas for the interviews and we just happened to share the same trainer who got us ready for the NFL, Loren Lando, the director of sports performance at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Denver. I met McSweeney very briefly when we were in Vegas but he had to leave early because he had a fight in Atlantic City. I heard of Roy Nelson, I think I saw a picture of him once or twice. But I didn’t put it together that Roy was Roy when I met him.
When we lined up I didn’t even notice that there was only 15 guys. Abe is definitely a detailed guy, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit that he would have paid attention to it. When they called Kimbo out I was like, that’s the big surprise? I’ve wanted to fight Kimbo for like four years. What’s the big damn deal, he’s just a puncher. I wasn’t impressed, I was indifferent towards it.
When the coaches worked us out I told Rashad, look, I want to be on your team, I need help with my wrestling, it’s my weakest point. So I wasn’t sandbagging it but I wasn’t busting my stones with Rampage’s workout. I figured Rampage was cool, which he is, but he’s not a wrestler and I needed help with my wrestling.
I wasn’t surprised I got picked when I did. As far as they knew I had no fighting experience at all, I was a complete stranger. I expected to be picked pretty much near dead last. I was surprised that Rampage went the path that he did, where he just picked really big bodies. Really, Abe was Rampage’s first pick. Kimbo was a given as soon as he walked in, so Abe was his first real pick.
This is what I remember hearing about Rampage’s team. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but this is what I remember hearing – Rampage was like, ‘OK, who wants to fight first,’ and no one really raised their hand. So Rampage was just like, ‘you’re gonna fight this guy and you’re gonna fight this guy.’ I remember Abe saying afterwards, ‘eesh, this wasn’t a good fight for me, I don’t have any wrestling at all.’
It was one of the most boring fights ever. There was no punching, no kicking, and Abe was up against the fence so it was like two turtles layin’ there. Once they got stood up I figured Abe would lead off with a teep to keep Madsen away but he kept his hands up high and got taken down again.
I don’t know why Rampage did what he did. Abe caught a raw deal but honestly, the second round, Abe should have known that that takedown was coming and been lighter on his feet. But by that time he had lost a sh*t-ton of blood. Maybe he was lethargic and light-headed. He bled like a stuck pig. From what I remember they stopped counting at 200 stitches.