TORONTO – The last time we saw Brendan Schaub in competition, he was ducking, moving and retreating from Roberto Abreu at Metamoris jiu-jitsu match, refusing to have anything to do with "Cyborg’s" tornado guard (or anything that involved the ground). That was reasonably smart, even if it went against the spirit of the thing he was doing.
On Saturday night, at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Schaub made amends against his one-time buddy and Ultimate Fighter 10 castmate, Matt Mitrione. In a fairly close first round, Schaub eventually sank a D’Arce choke that put Mitrione in imminent danger. When the referee asked Mitrione if he was okay, Mitrione gave a reassuring thumb’s up to signal he was fine. Moments later, Mitrione was asleep.
"I thought he was out before that, and I even told Dan [Miragliotta], ‘he’s out,’" Schaub said at the post-fight presser. "And I think Mitrione put a thumb up or something like that? I’m not sure. So I just gripped tighter, and he went to sleep, so it was a good night for me."
Before Schaub got his arm raised in victory and became the first ever UFC heavyweight to win via a D'Arce choke, he and Mitrione exchanged hugs and pleasantries. As to whether the friends had squashed their beef, Schaub said now that the fight is in the rear view mirror, so is any bad blood between them.
"Yeah, we’re cool -- to me it’s just business, man," he said. "Matt needs to talk trash to be up for a fight, but it’s just business. I told Matt in the back, it’s all good man, we can go back to being friends. It was good. I wish Matt and I were that smart where we did hype this fight big and follow this whole plan. No man, I really didn’t like the guy leading up to this fight. I thought I was going to whip his ass at weigh-ins, Dana had to jump in, so that was all real."
So, what’s next for Schaub? He might already be in consideration for a mystery bout that Dana White alluded to at the presser but didn’t go so far as to reveal. On the question of whether or not Schaub would be given a top ten fighter next, White seeded his intentions.
"Well, the heavyweight division is exciting, and there’s a lot of good fights in the heavyweight division, and actually [Schaub] might slide into a slot now where something else just fell out," he said. "So, we might have another fight for him."
He didn’t elaborate beyond saying, "that was the tease," but a quick glance at the upcoming schedule leaves it wide open for speculation. Right now top contender Fabricio Werdum is without a fight. Daniel Cormier is taking on Roy Nelson at UFC 166 next month in Houston. Josh Barnett, fresh off his victory over Frank Mir, is slated to face Travis Browne at UFC 168. Mir is fighting Alistair Overeem at UFC 167 in November. Antonio Silva is set to face Mark Hunt on Dec. 7 in Australia. Stipe Miocic is also a name that’s out there.
Whoever it is, and whatever the situation, White left it blank. All he said was that Schaub was a candidate.
"Tonight was an easy night [for him], a little warm-up," he laughed.