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Matt Mitrione says it was ‘difficult at times to stay motivated’ for second Fedor camp

After fighting twice just a few weeks apart last summer to kick off his new life under the Bellator banner, Matt Mitrione has now been sidelined for 11 months. He was supposed to fight Fedor Emelianenko in February but was forced to withdraw on the night of the bout due to kidney stones.

Four months later, now with a clean bill of health, the two are set to finally have their encounter, this time in the elevated theater of Madison Square Garden on a big pay-per-view card. And the Indiana-based heavyweight said it was tough to maintain his enthusiasm for a new camp after having the first fight fall through.

He admitted as much during a live visit on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.

“Fedor has worked his butt off several times now to fight me, and I’ve worked my butt of several times to fight him now,” he said. “You know, what’s interesting is that it was difficult at times to stay motivated for this camp.

“Because I’ve done the exact same thing, the exact same fight, there’s nothing different. There are no new ingredients in the recipe. It’s all the same stuff. You come up with, hey, this counter might work, or this or this, this move here, this step this way, blah blah blah. But it’s not the same as the first time. The first time is fun. It’s like oooh, okay, let’s get back to it.”

Mitrione is coming off of back-to-back victories over Carl Seumanutafa and Oli Thompson, each of whom he finished via strikes. Now he’s had in effect two full camps for Emelianenko, which he said has been challenging to deal with. If there’s a silver lining for Mitrione it was that he got to spend a large portion of his training camp in the Midwest, rather than down at Combat Club in Florida with his striking coach, Henri Hooft.

And besides — he has fighters back at home that can better emulate Emelianenko’s style and have a better representative physique to give him some looks.

“I think [Combat Club] is a really solid joint,” he said. “But, the heavyweight fighters down there are all like 6-foot-6 or taller, so that doesn’t really help me out for fighting Fedor that much.”

Even though he has had to start from scratch on a training camp for Emelianenko and keep him in his crosshairs so long, Mitrione said he foresees doing what he’s done so much in his MMA career.

That is, get a finish. In his 11 MMA victories, all but one have come via KO or TKO. In the five fights he’s lost, four of those have been via finish, too. The only two fighters to go the distance with Mitrione were Joey Beltran at UFC 119 in his home state of Indiana (a victory), and at UFC 137 against Cheick Kongo (a loss).

“I feel great,” he said. “I feel long, nimble, athletic. I feel like I’m in great cardio shape.

“I feel like I’m going to knock Fedor out. I feel like I’m going to put hands on him. And I feel like I know exactly how it’s going to happen.”

Asked if the finish would come early, he dished up a Mitrione-esque answer.

“I don’t get paid by the punch.”

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