At UFC 113, heavyweights Kimbo Slice and Matt Mitrione will collide in the cage.
To many, neither man has been proven to be a true mixed martial artist. Others are more optimistic, citing that both of them are still in the early stages of their careers. Either way, this is likely to be a turning point for both men.
Matt Mitrione, better known as "Meathead," has fought only one professional match.
In December 2009, he debuted with a 10-second KO over The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights alumnus Marcus "Big Baby" Jones, at the TUF finale. The native son of Springfield, Ill. is a former NFL player, having played for the Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, and the NY Giants.
Kevin Ferguson, better known as street-fighter-turned-MMA prospect Kimbo Slice, will return to action after defeating Houston Alexander in a catchweight bout, also at The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights finale. Slice won a unanimous decision over Alexander in a match that may have fallen well short of fan expectations.
Slice has an MMA fight record of 4-1 in his colorful and controversial career. In the now-defunct Elite Extreme Combat promotion (Elite XC), he had racked up three straight victories.
His winning streak ended when he was knocked out 14 seconds into his fight with Seth "The Silverback" Petruzelli.
In the wake of his defeat, it was alleged that Petruzelli had been offered money to keep the fight off the mat, as Slice’s weak ground skills jeopardized Elite XC’s primary cash cow.
Despite the clouds of controversy and doubt, Slice will re-enter the Octagon to face his former housemate.
Personally, I think his experience gives Slice the edge over Mitrione at UFC 113. In addition, his coaches and training partners praise him as a hard-working athlete eager to improve and expand his skill set.
In past performances, Slice floundered on the mat. Under James Thompson’s ground-and-pound in Elite XC, he was nearly KO’d. When Roy Nelson put him down in their TUF match and locked him in a crucifix, he was TKO’d.
Yet, when he faced Alexander, Slice displayed newly-acquired prowess. He slammed Alexander, and followed up with vicious strikes from the mount. Kimbo, in short, has improved since those lackluster days.
Mitrione’s talents are yet to be fully tested. He possesses significant power in his hands, but his ground skills are still in question. Against Scott Junk, he ground out a unanimous decision after a two-round slugfest.
Marcus Jones, at the TUF finale, scored some heavy shots on him before Mitrione put him away with a big right hook. TUF alumnus James McSweeney finished him with a guillotine choke.
For both men, this is a crucial bout.
Slice needs to prove that has not merely a back-alley bruiser who earned victories over sub-par opponents in rigged matches. Mitrione must prove his quick dispatching of an overzealous Jones wasn’t a fluke.
This is a high-stakes battle for both men, and crossroads for their respective careers.