Injury and opportunity are two things that have been plentiful in the UFC over the past year or so.
Those two things are what will bring Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione into the Octagon on Saturday, December 15 when they headline the season 16 finale of The Ultimate Fighter.
Nelson has been an ever-present figure during the 16th season of TUF, coaching opposite Shane Carwin, the man he was originally booked to fight on Saturday night. An injury to Carwin opened up a spot in the main event and Mitrione, who had been scheduled to face Philip De Fries at UFC 155, threw his name in the hat.
The UFC must have liked the matchup between Nelson and Mitrione and they took him up on his offer.
Mitrione and Nelson are no strangers to TUF. Both fighters competed on the 10th season of the show, a season that Nelson won. Mitrione, on the other hand, was dispatched in the quarterfinal round, falling to James McSweeney via guillotine choke.
Despite the fact that they could have met in the semifinal round of the show, Mitrione isn’t looking at this fight as some sort of chance at redemption or as a way to show that he would have defeated Nelson had they fought back in 2009. He knows that was a different time and place for both fighters, “Roy won The Ultimate Fighter, good job for Roy,” Mitirione said. “He’s had three-and-a-half years to develop since then and so have I.”
While that much is true, both fighters have had the same amount of time to develop since filming season 10 of TUF in 2009, but Nelson has been the more active of the two.
Nelson has two fights under his belt since UFC 137, the last time Mitrione fought in the UFC. As far as how the 14 months off will treat him, Mitrione was unsure and seemingly unconcerned, “I’ll tell you after the fight,” he answered when asked if he thought the time off would affect him.
Mitrione, a fighter who has all six of his professional bouts as a UFC fighter then continued, “It’s like riding a bike. I never had a fight before the UFC and I went in there and kind of went off the cuff and made it happen, so I’m sure it’ll be like the same way.”
Riding a bike, punching guys in the face, you do it once, you never forget, or so Matt Mitrione would like to believe.
We’ll find out if Mitrione is right on Saturday night.
All quotes obtained first hand.