UFC 165 Preview: Brendan Schaub vs. Matt Mitrione Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Season winner Roy Nelson has clearly been the most successful fighter to emerge from The Ultimate Fighter 10. At UFC 165, a bout between TUF 10 runner-up Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione could determine the second-most-accomplished competitor to come out of the all-heavyweight season of the UFC reality series.
Aside from Nelson, Schaub and Mitrione are the only cast members remaining on the UFC roster from TUF 10. While neither is in danger of becoming the next TUF veteran to be released from the organization, this matchup is a pivotal one for both Schaub and Mitrione.
The victor will be riding a two-fight winning streak and could be on their way to title contention in a shallow heavyweight class. The loser will have lost three out of four, which will no doubt put them on thin ice heading into their next outing.
As this heavyweight bout approaches, here is an in-depth look at which fighter is more likely to have their hand raised at UFC 165.
Striking: Schaub Offense vs. Mitrione Defense
With 38-percent striking accuracy, Brendan Schaub lands at a lower rate than Phil DeFries, who Matt Mitrione stopped in 19 seconds at UFC on Fuel TV 9 in April.
Schaub isn't going to nip and tuck his way to many decision wins in stand-up battles. The Colorado native does, however, possess the knockout power to end any fight with one punch. While DeFries presented virtually no threat to Mitrione's chin, Schaub and his seven career knockout wins do.
Although Mitrione's chin has given way once before, the athletic heavyweight is not usually easy to hit. Obviously, that will be a problem for fighter like Schaub, who looks for the home run almost every time he swings.
Defending 68 percent of strikes thrown at him, Mitrione's striking defense is much tighter than any opponents Schaub has knocked out inside the Octagon. In comparing Mitrione with Schaub's UFC knockout victims, Mirko Filipovic's 58-percent striking defense comes closest, and Schaub didn't put "Cro Cop" away until late in the third round.
While Schaub is capable of knocking out any heavyweight he hits, the 30-year-old hasn't proven he can hit an athlete like Mitrione.
Striking: Mitrione Offense vs. Schaub Defense
Landing 52 percent of his strikes thrown inside the Octagon, Matt Mitrione is a much more accurate striker than Brendan Schaub. Additionally, Schaub gets hit more frequently than Mitrione, avoiding only 57 percent of strikes aimed at him.
Perhaps more importantly in this matchup that could be determined by the first big shot landed, Schaub's chin has appeared much more vitreous than Mitrione's. Mitrione has only been stopped by Roy Nelson, who also finished Schaub, but "The Hybrid" has also had his lights put out by Ben Rothwell and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
If this fight stays standing, one punch could bring it to an end. Having better precision and a stronger chin than Schaub, Mitrione would be the likely winner in a striking match.
Takedowns: Schaub Offense vs. Mitrione Defense
Brendan Schaub has shown he's willing to fall back on his wrestling in matchups with dangerous strikers.
"The Hybrid" took Lavar Johnson down five times and grounded Mirko Filipovic on four occasions. While his wrestling is far from the best in the heavyweight division, Schaub has been successful on 53 percent of his takedown attempts.
After his back-to-back knockout losses against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Ben Rothwell, Schaub may have previewed a new version of himself against Johnson. It wasn't the most exciting fighting style, but utilizing a similar approach against Matt Mitrione might be Schaub's best shot at victory at UFC 165.
Mitrione is significantly more mobile than Johnson and the version of "Cro Cop" that Schaub faced. However, Schaub does have the ability to take Mitrione down if he finds a way to close the gap.
Takedowns: Mitrione Offense vs. Schaub Defense
Matt Mitrione has never attempted a takedown inside the Octagon.
With eight UFC appearances under his belt, Mitrione doesn't appear to have any intentions on using his wrestling offensively. Considering the solid takedown defense of Brendan Schaub, who avoids 78 percent of opponents takedown attempts, it probably wouldn't even matter if Mitrione did plan on going to the ground at UFC 165.
Unless he gets rocked and shoots in out of desperation, Mitrione isn't going to try to drag Schaub down.
Grappling: Schaub Top vs. Mitrione Bottom
Brendan Schaub has no problem stalling when he finds himself in the top position.
While it might be boring for fans, Schaub is not shy about slowing down fights against one-dimensional opponents.
Lavar Johnson didn't present any submission threat to Schaub at UFC 157, so "The Hybrid" did everything he could (essentially by not doing anything) to keep the slugger on the canvas. Matt Mitrione's jiu-jitsu is also nothing to worry about for Schaub, so there's a real good chance the Grudge Training Center fighter comes into this bout looking to keep things horizontal.
Grappling: Mitrione Top vs. Schaub Bottom
Matt Mitrione isn't going to work from the top against Brendan Schaub by choice, and he's probably not going to stay there even if he scores a reversal.
Mitrione's already established that he doesn't ever come into fights planning on looking for takedowns.
If he does find a way to sweep Schaub, there's little chance Mitrione is going to want to work from the top. Schaub has underrated submissions, and Mitrione would be more comfortable standing and striking anyway.
NFL veterans Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione are both still somewhat inexperienced in MMA.
They've taken a while to develop and are probably both a bit past their athletic primes now. While both have picked up the wins to prove they belong on the UFC roster, neither is likely to ever become a serious title contender in the heavyweight class.
Schaub and Mitrione have both competed in 2013, so neither is likely to be rusty at UFC 165. Though both are in their 30s, Schaub and Mitrione are still some of the most athletic heavyweights competing in MMA.
One asset that could give Mitrione an important edge over Schaub is his reach. As he looks to keep distance against Schaub, Mitrione's four-inch reach advantage will be huge in staying out of range for takedowns.
Either Brendan Schaub or Matt Mitrione could end this fight early when standing, but Mitrione's accuracy makes him more likely to be the one would will land the knockout blow.
There's a chance Schaub comes into UFC 165 looking to wrestle, and he definitely is capable of taking Mitrione down should they clinch. However, Mitrione should be able to use his reach and quickness to stay on the outside while looking for an opening for a power punch.
Even if Mitrione does get taken down, Schaub hasn't shown a sense of urgency to finish opponents on the ground. Mitrione should have multiple chances to start standing in this three-round bout.
As is the case in most heavyweight bouts, one mistake could result in a very different outcome, but Mitrione should find a way to stand long enough to touch Schaub's chin.
Mitrione defeats Schaub by (T)KO in the second round.
Statistics via FightMetric.com.