UFC on FOX 13 Fight Breakdown: Matt Mitrione vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

tuf-16-finale The opening main card bout at UFC on FOX 13 is a three-round heavyweight contest between Matt Mitrione and Gabriel Gonzaga. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Mitrione is a -130 favorite (bet $130 to win $100) while Gonzaga is a +110 underdog (bet $100 to win $110). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Mitrione at -150 and Gonzaga at +110, and the betting public has leaned slightly towards the dog Gonzaga so far. I like Mitrione to win this matchup and I’m surprised there’s been early line movement in Gonzaga’s direction. Here’s why. Mitrione (8-3) began his career on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and so far has been solid in the Octagon, going 8-3 overall. Mitrione is 36 years old but the guy is a big, athletic freak who has extremely heavy strikes. He trains with the Blackzilians and working with Henri Hooft has certainly helped his striking, as he has taken out Derrick Lewis and Shawn Jordan with heavy punches his last two fights. The problem with Mitrione is he’s just a big striker and doesn’t have many other skills. His wrestling is mediocre, and his submission defence is very poor. He has gotten by on his speed, athleticism and knockout power against the mid-tier heavyweights, but when he’s stepped up against the likes of Roy Nelson, Cheick Kongo and Brendan Schaub, he’s lost. Mitrione is getting an interesting matchup here with Gonzaga, one that he can win by knockout if he stays standing, but one where he will have to watch his chin and also stop the takedowns. It’s not an easy style matchup, but if he can keep it standing he should be able to win. Gonzaga (16-8) has long been one of the gatekeepers of the UFC heavyweight division. The 35-year-old Brazilian is 11-7 in the UFC with wins over the likes of Ben Rothwell, Shawn Jordan, Dave Herman and Mirko Cro Cop. He is a well-rounded heavyweight with big power in his strikes, an excellent BJJ game and serviceable wrestling. In my opinion, he’s been underrated for a long time. Lately I have been impressed with the improvements Gonzaga has made in his standup. We all knew he was an elite ground fighter, but now his improved boxing makes him even more dangerous. The problem with Gonzaga is his chin. He has been knocked out six times in his career, many times in brutal fashion. He just doesn’t absorb strikes well, and if hit on the button goes down like a sack of bricks. And that’s why he’s the underdog to Mitrione. If he gets hit, he’s going out, no question. What he’ll have to do is shoot for a takedown and get this fight to the floor, and if he can do that, he should win. But he has to watch out for Mitrione’s strikes on the way in, because if he gets hit, he’s going night night. Gonzaga needs to get this fight to the floor and try to tap out Mitrione or win a decision, and while he could do it, I doubt it. I think what’s more likely is Mitrione keeps this fight on the feet, uses his speed advantage to circle around Gonzaga and land some nasty leg kicks from the outside, and when he feels the opportunity is right, use his punches to put away Gonzaga and his mediocre chin. I like Mitrione here at the low price of -130, a price I feel is very fair for a likely winner.

Written by Adam Martin.

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