Following each episode of The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights, Team Rashad member Matt Mitrione will share his thoughts on what happened on camera and behind the scenes.
It was very subdued in the house the first week. We only got to practice, like, twice before the first fight came about. So we really didn’t do too much whatsoever. Everybody was feeling each other out. There was a little bit of tomfoolery that started. Abe wore people thin a little bit the first week because no one really knew his personality. He’s really confident. Once he lost everything was fine.
The first fight a morale booster for sure. We figured that John would dominate him. Abe was pretty stiff, didn’t have much lateral movement. Going against a wrestler was pretty much a death sentence for him. So after John mollywhopped him, we were really confident after that.
The McSweeney fight was another good match-up for us. Shivers is a giant power swinger. We figured McSweeney was light and nimble on his feet and he’s got really powerful kicks. It played out exactly the way we anticipated it. First of all, McSweeney’s leg kicks are nasty. Shivers couldn’t walk normally for two weeks. McSweeney kicks hard as hell. Hard, hard, hard. Shivers probably took 12, 15 kicks to the leg, at least. McSweeney kicked Shivers so many times he actually bruised his own shin.
But I think most of us expected more out of James. No one was really intimidated by anyone else but McSweeney was Rashad’s roommate, he’s Greg [Jackson’s] stand-up coach or whatever. He’s got all these accolades. You put a notch next to his name as someone to watch but during the fight he kicked and ran a lot. We were like, why is he creating so much space? McSweeney kind of showed some chinks in his armor, so his 150 Thai fights or whatever weren’t as much of a concern.
I respect Shivers more after that fight than I did before the fight. I think Shivers is tough. Tough, tough, tough. I sparred with McSweeney and my leg hurt for a week with shin pads. For Shivers to eat those and keep fighting even though his leg felt like a cement block? Shivers never bitched. After the fight he had to work out these huge knots in his IT band because he got the shit kicked out of him. But he never complained.