When Frank Mir got injured and had to pull out of his scheduled fight with Strikeforce champion Daniel Cormier for their scheduled November 3rd fight Dana White asked UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione to fill in for Mir. On Saturday White told reporters that Mitrione had turned down the fight and that he was not happy about it.
“It fucking makes me sick,” White said, according MMA Junkie. “Listen, you don’t want big opportunities, I hear you. I get it, then. All I can say is, I guess he doesn’t want big opportunities. I get it. Duly noted.”
White went on to say that Mitrione’s decision to just continue to train for his already scheduled December 29th against Phil De Fries was “fucking insane.”
“It makes no sense to me, and it’s insane. I’m a little bummed out by it. We’ll figure it out. Yeah, [Mitrione has already got a fight booked]. He said, ‘I’ll just take that one.’”
There’s no reason to be surprised that White took a few moments after an unrelated event to call Mitrione insane and imply that he is a coward, since throwing his fighters under the bus when they make a decision that doesn’t immediately make his own life easier is the norm for White. But choosing Matt Mitrione as a scapegoat is particularly strange in this instance.
If White offered Mitrione a substantial raise, in effect, to fight Cormier and save that November Strikeforce event, he didn’t say so. Absent that, it is hard to understand what White meant when he said this was a “big opportunity,” for Mitrione.
Matt Mitrione is a UFC fighter with, perhaps, more name recognition than Cormier. Mitrione would be giving up a spot on the UFC’s New Year’s Eve card to fight in what will more than likely be a half-full stadium in the UFC’s minor league.
More importantly, Mitrione has no business being in the cage with Cormier at this point. Cormier is smaller than Mitrione but is better at just about everything than the former NFL player.
Sure, Mitrione would stand a chance at landing a big shot on Cormier and winning if they fought, but who could begrudge him for wanting to simply work for an honest pay check instead of trying to win the lottery?
Finding replacement fighters and match ups for cards after injuries has to be one of the most challenging parts of Dana White’s job. But guess what, Prez? It isn’t exactly easy for fighters to cut short training camps or do abbreviated ones in order to fight on short notice, either.
And, by the way, they are the ones in there getting hit. They are also the ones that can get cut by the UFC after a single loss. Mitrione hasn’t fought since 2011 and is coming off a loss to Cheick Kongo.
Against Kongo, Mitrione was game but clearly over matched. How would stepping up against an even better, more dynamic and well-rounded fighter after a long lay-off, and on short notice, be a smart move for Mitrione?
Heck, this or any fight in Strikeforce barely makes any sense for Cormier himself. He won the heavyweight grand prix and is supposedly headed for the UFC on the strength of that performance.
Only thing is, he’s still bound to his Strikeforce contract and owes Showtime a fight. No one even wants to see Cormier fight in Strikeforce anymore, why should Mitrione involve himself in that low-profile, high risk, lame-duck situation of Cormier’s?
What do you think, Nation? Do you see where Mitrione is coming from or do you agree with White that he’s a lily-livered, no-good and insane sport killer?