Matt Mitrione spent some time in the NFL before transitioning to mixed martial arts. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
Matt Mitrione (5-2, 5-2 UFC) vs. Philip De Fries (9-2, 2-2 UFC)
The Matchup: A promising athlete from Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Mitrione has faltered as the level of competition has increased, falling to Cheick Kongo and Roy Nelson in his last two Octagon appearances. The loss to “Big Country” was particularly humbling, as Mitrione was floored -- and subsequently finished -- by a nifty three-punch combination from his portly foe. Fortunately for Mitrione, heavyweight is not yet exceedingly deep, and he will have a decent chance to rebound against the standup-challenged De Fries.
A grappler with eight of his nine career triumphs by way of submission, De Fries has been exposed by opponents with big-time power in the UFC; both Stipe Miocic and Todd Duffee have stopped him inside of a round. In victories over Rob Broughton and Oli Thompson, De Fries was able to put his ground game to work, and he would be wise to attempt to get Mitrione to the ground as soon as possible.
The problem with this strategy is that Mitrione is the better overall athlete with a reach advantage, meaning De Fries will have to put together some semblance of a punching combination to move into tie-up and takedown range. “Meathead” is also the larger fighter and is also more than capable of landing heavy strikes from the clinch.
De Fries has not been unwilling to throw hands during his UFC tenure, as he clipped Thompson with a right hand to set up a fight-ending choke at UFC on Fox 4, but Mitrione is deceptively light on his feet and should be able to avoid the majority of his opponent’s offerings.
Mitrione is largely unproven on the ground, and De Fries is certainly capable of controlling positioning and hunting for submissions should he drag the Blackzilians representative into his world. However, he will have to prove he can eat heavy leather to do so.
The Pick: In addition to his quick and heavy hands, Mitrione can utilize kicks to the legs and body to keep De Fries at a comfortable range. Eventually, “Meathead” puts his man to sleep with a solid combination, winning by TKO in round two.
Next Fight » Brad Pickett vs. Mike Easton