Matt Mitrione got his start as a professional athlete in the NFL, but he’s had a lot more success in MMA.
Mitrione, who played nine games as a defensive end for the Giants in 2002, earned the biggest win of his pro MMA career on Saturday night when he headlined a Bellator MMA card at Madison Square Garden and knocked out Fedor Emelianenko.
The fight lasted just over a minute and saw Mitrione and Emelianenko knock each other down with simultaneous punches, followed by Mitrione landing several punches on the ground and knocking Emelianenko unconscious. The 40-year-old Emelianenko was once the best fighter in MMA, but he’s now well past his prime.
Mitrione said before the fight that several of his Giants teammates had reached out and said they’d be watching.
“That means a lot to me. It’s a lot of pride. I carry the Big Blue with me all the time,” Mitrione told the New York Post.
The 38-year-old Mitrione has had the most successful career of several former NFL players who have tried MMA. Herschel Walker’s foray into MMA is better known to the general public, but Walker built his 2-0 career MMA record against a couple of hand-picked opponents who were no match for him. Mitrione has built his 12-5 pro record against legitimate opponents.
For big, strong guys who find that they’re not quite good enough to make it in the NFL, MMA gives them a second chance at a career as a professional athlete. Mitrione is making the most of his.