What started out as nothing more than a matchup between two competitive friends has evolved into a social media beef with only one resolution: fight.
UFC 165 opponents Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione have been acquaintances for several years, but Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, they’ll fight with a chance to move one peg higher in the heavyweight ranks on the line.
Both men started out as professional football players in the NFL and later transitioned to MMA, where they worked their way up the to the UFC through the 10th season of the “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show.
Schaub (9-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) and Mitrione (6-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) were teammates on the show under coach Rashad Evans, and even though neither was able to win the coveted six-figure UFC contract, they’ve both gone on to have successful careers in the world’s premier MMA organization.
At UFC 165, though, their paths will cross inside the octagon. And even though they have a friendly history, the lead-up to the fight has consisted of some unsavory words from both parties.
“Out of nowhere he started talking trash to me on Twitter and social media and stuff like that,” Schaub told MMAjunkie.com Radio. “He said I look like Adam Sandler and someone had a kid or something like that and I said, ‘Cool man, your wife sure seemed to like it. How’s that going?’
“He took it personal and he sent me a text, ‘You took it too far.’ And I sent him a text, ‘Do something about it!’ And I haven’t talked to him since.”
The Twitter exchanges began in June when Mitrione poked fun at Schaub’s most recent bout, a unanimous decision win over Lavar Johnson at UFC 157. The fight was an underwhelming 15-minute affair that primarily consisted of “The Hyrbid” holding top position on the ground, something he received a lot of flack for in the fallout of the contest.
Messages between the two heavyweights were then exchanged until Mitrione posted that Schaub, “looks like Adam Sandler f—ed Corky from ‘Life Goes On.’” Unimpressed, Schaub fired back with a comment Mitrione felt was over the line and was ultimately the last bit of communication between the two.
“I might look like Adam Sandler/corkey mix your wife when we did appearances together sure seemed to like it. How’s that going by the way?” Schaub asked via Twitter.
Even with the back-and-forth, Schaub still considers his friendship with Mitrione to be a legitimate one and knows everything is likely to blow over post-fight.
Having trained together on “TUF,” Schaub knows “Meathead” is a very dangerous striker with a lot of knockout power and an improving ground game.
While he fully recognizes the strengths Mitrione brings to the cage and his ability to end a fight early with one strike, the 30-year-old also notices several weaknesses, the most glaring of which is an inability to fight at a high pace for all three rounds.
“There’s no need to panic and try and finish Matt in the first 30 seconds,” Schaub said. “I don’t have to do that, I can go five fives if I have too – Matt can’t. So that’s why I think Matt fights like that and he doesn’t have a chance in enticing me into a brawl or anything like that. It’s going to be my night and I’m going to dictate the pace of the fight for sure.”
At the end of the day, the goal of MMA is to win as many fights as possible and climb the ladder towards a world title, regardless of who is on the other side of the cage.
Sometimes UFC officials book fights between friends or training partners, but that’s the nature of the beast and the exact reason why Schaub had no quarrels in accepting the matchup.
“Matt is a friend but I have zero problem, just like I told Matt, when Joe Silva and Dana White asked me to take this fight, I had zero problems taking it,” Schaub said. “It didn’t even crossed my mind to be like, ‘Nah, man.’ This is the business we’re in; this is what we signed up for so I don’t have a problem separating that.
“The one goal is being a world champion, if that means getting through Matt then it is what it is.”
For complete coverage of UFC 165, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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