Bryce Mitchell set for February return: “Being injured was boring, get me in that cage”
You may know Bryce Mitchell from his time on The Ultimate Fighter, you may know him from his gruesome groin injury, what you should know him as is a promising fighter ready for the spotlight.
“My nuts are completely healed.” This is the start to our interview, for those who don’t know, below is the link of his description with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani:
“Physically everything is good, mentally I’m with it man, I’m focused and ready for anything.” Mitchell has had to avoid training during this injury, which he said wasn’t easy, but now that he can get back into the training spirit, he feels ready. “Im eyeing a February return, I don’t care who, I just want to be back in that cage.”
“My manager has been talking with Shelby, and what I’ve been told is definitely February, don’t know the date, opponent or event but I know that return is soon.” Most would consider that not much information to build a camp around, but not Bryce, especially coming off of his gruesome injury. Mitchell has all the information he needs, train and be ready for February.
“I’m a guy that needs to compete, being injured was boring, I need that cage.”
For those who missed it, Bryce Mitchell was on the TUF Undefeated season, and he thinks without it, he wouldn’t be where he is now. “It wasn’t easy, I had 3 of the toughest fights on the show and had them within a month, but getting to the UFC should never be easy.” The 145 weight class was stacked on this season, from Brad Katona to Tyler Diamond, the weight was full of talent. “It made me a better fighter, it opens you up, find your strengths, find out everything about yourself as a fighter.”
“Thug Nasty” may not have won The Ultimate Fighter, but he impressed Dana White enough to be given a spot on the TUF Finale Card. Mitchell defeated favorite, and former teammate Tyler Diamond. “It wasn’t how I wanted to win, I’m about finishes, but a win is a win especially a UFC win.” Mitchell blames himself for the close decision, stating that he came in overwhelmingly small, and lacked proper hydration. “The 3rd round he dominated me, that’s because I had zero hydration, I was outfighting him early, but that 3rd round I had nothing left, I was much smaller.”
Mitchell believes he could have performed much better had he properly used hydration and more weight cutting. “I cut nothing, so I thought I didn’t need to hydrate as much, that was stupid of me.” Mitchell says usually with weight cutting he properly measures his water intake, but without weight to cut he felt it was unnecessary. “I learned from it, I still won, but I learned this is not a good way to go into a fight.”
Bryce is a 10-0 fighter, 8 of those 10 wins have come via submission. It is clear he is someone you may not want to test the ground with, but what we saw during TUF was that Mitchell can strike just as well. ” I try to study all martial arts, a little of everything, if I’m getting beat at one I’ll switch to something else.” Bryce believes every fighter has something they specialize in, knowing many aspects of martial arts, he has the ability to challenge his opponents in something they may not specialize in. “If I fight a BJJ fighter, I am going to stand with him, strike with him, that is not only going to give me an advantage but will open up opportunities for myself.”
Mitchell thanks his gym, Baratta MMA, for everything about his career. “They’ve believed in me from day one, everyone in that place is family to me, they have been on my side through this journey.” When fighting on The Ultimate Fighter, Mitchell had to leave Baratta and train in a new situation, this wasn’t easy for him. ” I mean TUF was amazing, I learned so much about myself, but training without my coaches, without that sense of comfort, that was tough but in the end it made me a better fighter.”
Bryce actually believed he under-performed on the show, which may come as a surprise to many. “Thug Nasty” also stated that for a while training under double champ Daniel Cormier was not easy. “Cormier’s philosophy was so different from what I’d always learned, I learned so much at once it was super tough.” One of the toughest things for Bryce was the contrasting ideals he had learned in the past, “DC would say don’t pass guard, stay in half guard, for DC he’s unbelievable at that, for myself as a submission fighter it was just different from what I’ve learned over my career.” Although not always an easy task, and even “under-performing” Bryce knew that these lessons from a guy like Cormier would be life changing. “I look back and thanks to them I’ve exposed myself to so much, at the time it wasn’t easy but I needed it.”
“It’s amazing to look back and realize DC and his team did so much for me, so much exposure to new things.”
Especially since getting home, back to Arkansas, Bryce feels he has had the chance to mesh what he learned on the show, with his own coaches and style, creating a best of both worlds scenario. Mitchell believes the show built a relationship between the fighters that will last a long time, “We have each other’s numbers, we all bonded together, I just bought a gun with Ricky (Steele) I miss those guys.” Mitchell spoke of enjoying everyone’s company on the show, but building especially strong friendships with certain fighters, “I got some lifelong friends from that show, I watch their fights however I can, we trained together every day. I’m rooting for them too.”
Bryce Mitchell is back in Arkansas, keeping himself busy, he described the injury life as hard but is ready to once again call the UFC cage his home. The 145er is ready for whoever the UFC may put in the opposite corner, to him it is a livelihood, a test of willpower, and just a lot of fun.
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