“My dad would always tell me, ‘Joel, give everything you can. I’ll carry you off the field if I need to. Just give me everything you’ve got.’ That’s how I want to play the game. It’s how I was brought up.”
Last month marked the 20th anniversary of one of the most memorable fights in MMA history: Bart Vale vs. Mike Bitonio. The match, which has been watched more than two million times on YouTube, is famous not because of who won or lost. What people remember is the superhuman courage of Bitonio, who weighed 50 pounds less than his opponent. For nearly 8 minutes, despite taking a beating so brutal that it would lead to several rule changes, despite the announcers begging for the fight to stop, Bitonio refused to tap out.
Mike's son Joel was just 4 years old when his dad fought Bart Vale. But the lessons he learned from that night gave him an edge. Under-recruited out of high school, underestimated in college, Joel willed himself to become a second round pick for the Browns and one of the top young lineman in the NFL.
As you'll hear, Joel makes the most of his time off the field as well.