In the featured heavyweight bout of the evening, former NFL lineman and The Ultimate Fighter season ten contestant Matt Mitrione (3-0, 3-0 UFC) looks to continue his ascension as he battles returning UFC veteran Tim Hague (12-4, 1-3 UFC). Mitrione's most recent appearance inside the Octagon came in a winning effort at UFC 119 against Joey Beltran. and he had previously defeated infamous street fighter turned mixed martial artist Kimbo Slice at UFC 113 in May. While it is still early in Mitrione's career to deem him a potential star in the UFC's heavyweight division, he has done all the right things at this early stage to ensure he'll have a fighting chance at stardom.
Hague's first stint with the promotion was a disastrous one as he amassed a 1-3 record in four appearances with the promotion. A seven-second knockout at the hands of Todd Duffee, and decision losses to Chris Tuchscherer and Joey Beltran sealed Hague's fate of fighting outside of the UFC with his lone win coming against Pat Barry in his debut at UFC 98. After being released by the promotion, Hague tore through two former UFC fighters in Zak Jensen and Travis Wiuff, defeating both opponents inside the opening frame via knockout.
Hague should provide "Meathead" with another step up the ladder in the level of competition he is facing, although some would say that Hague brings only a minimal threat to the table. His defeat at the hands of Joey Beltran and Mitrione's own victory over Beltran might sway a lot of votes in the direction of Mitrione, but I'd wager on Mitrione's support system is more sufficient evidence that he'll be victorious on Saturday night.
Most notably, Mitrione currently trains out of Duke Roufus' camp in Wisconsin. Most fans were ignorant to what Duke has been able to do with his fighters over the last few years, but Anthony Pettis' Showtime kick, Erik Koch's WEC 52 win, and a number of other successes in the recent year have put a spotlight on his brand of kickboxing. Mitrione has shown improvements in his own kickboxing game as well due to Roufus' training methodology.
That will be the golden ticket to Mitrione cashing in a win bonus on Saturday night. If anyone has ever sat down and researched Hague's past, they'd come to a quick realization that leg kicks aren't something he enjoys. In fact, it's a sound strategy to avoiding his power and cutting him down from his foundation. Look for Mitrione to flash some of his improving footwork and feed Hague a steady diet of kicks and punches from range, eventually finishing this fight off sometime in the second or third round.