A Central New York version of Rocky- Mike Mucitelli's dream comes true
It's a story of hard work, dedication, and a never give up attitude.
And it has some shades of the famous "Rocky" movies in it too.
For years, Mike Mucitelli dreamed of mixed martial arts greatness. A sport, that, in its amateur ranks is more about the guts than it is the glory.
"In the beginning, it's exhausting" says Mucitelli. "You're not getting a paycheck as an amateur, you're not getting anything paid back it's just...you just have to have faith that your hard work is going to get a reward eventually" he adds.
A C-NS grad, Mike would not let that deter him from his dream. Even to the extent of working 9-5 at a Liverpool car detail shop, and immediately trekking across the street after his shift to train at Tai Kai Jiu Jitsu.
"You're going to work and you have your black eye, your sprains and your broken hand, and your rib popping out. People don't realize that at the end of the day, you're not going home to the living room and putting your feet up you're sweating and training...and it's hard. You're making sacrifices other people your age arent" Mike says.
Still, the hard work in the cage wasn't making ends meet. Mike would be booked for fights that his opponent simply wouldn't show up to. Such is the norm in the amateur ranks of MMA, so Mike decided to try out for the Bellator MMA league which is more structured and professional but did not make the cut- twice. Add to that the hurdles of New York State not legalizing MMA bouts and Mike's odds seemed rather long.
But his luck was about to change.
The Bellator league called back. They had a fight in a week in Mississippi, and wanted Mucitelli to fill in the void left by an injured fighter.
Just like Rocky, being summoned to fill in for an injured boxer to battle the mighty Apollo Creed on short notice in the 1975 film. Mucitelli was now being tabbed to prepare in an insanely short amount of time to take on an undefeated fighter.
Mike though, didn't let it phase him one bit.
Mucitelli took on Matt Van Buren on August 24th with just a week's notice in a nationally televised Bellator fight. Van Buren was similar in stature to Mike at 6'5" tall but Van Buren sported more than twice as many wins than Mucitelli in his perfect record.
He had gotten this far though, and the Central New Yorker wasn't about to let this opportunity go to waste.
Mere minutes into the first round, Mike locked in his pantented "triangle lock" a submission hold that, if executed properly, can cause a broken arm to its victim if that person doesn't "tap-out" or submit to the hold.
Submit, however, is exactly what Van Buren did as Mucitelli jumped for joy in the ring winning his Bellator debut.
To put it prospective, in literally one week, Mike went from grinding away at the car wash and the gym to being on national tv and winning a bout over an undefeated foe. But that's not all, with the win, Bellator has rewarded Mike with a contract for several more fights to come in the near future.
"It was beyond description, I mean, there are so many emotions that go through you at that time. You're just overwhelmed with emotions" Mike said.
That next "contracted" fight is this Friday in Rhode Island.