Bryce Mitchell is a picture of humble confidence. The proud Arkansas native knew he wasn’t at his best when he dropped his first UFC fight to Ilia Topuria at UFC 282 last December, but he also believes he should’ve been able to make it all three rounds with the Spaniard. At the top of the lessons he learned was knowing when to say “no” to an opportunity if he isn’t feeling 100 percent. That said, he knows that showing up to fight week means biting down and getting the job done, and he wasn’t able to get his hand raised nine months ago.
Since then, he had a fight scheduled with Movsar Evloev, which fell apart when an injury hampered “Thug Nasty,” so he heads into his co-main event at UFC Fight Night: Fiziev vs Gamrot itching to get back into the Octagon.
“I've matured a lot since my last fight,” Mitchell told UFC.com. “I've learned so much I can't even put it all into words. It would take me like two hours to tell you all the stuff that I've learned. It was one of the best things that's ever happened to me.”
Mitchell lamented having to pull out of the Evloev fight but is also of the belief that things worked out for the better. In Dan Ige, Mitchell gets a tough-as-nails, seasoned opponent who has spent the last few years entrenched in the thick of the Top 15 at featherweight.
He believes this matchup is much bigger than the Evloev fight as far as name recognition and potential gain, as well. Mitchell was complimentary toward Ige because of their shared faith, and he also respects the skills “50K” brings to the Octagon.
“I respect the man to the end,” Mitchell said. “He's a more than worthy opponent. He's a dangerous opponent. He's a hungry opponent. And so am I. That's good for y'all because you get to just see a great show.”
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Ige is about as well-rounded an opponent Mitchell has faced in the Octagon and comes into the matchup in good form. After struggling through a 1-4 stretch from July 2020 to June 2022, the Hawaiian veteran racked up back-to-back wins in January and June this year to get back on track.
Among the many challenges Ige presents, Mitchell is most eager to become the first man to finish Ige. So far, 23 pro fights have passed for Ige without getting stopped, but Mitchell believes he has the goods to get Ige out of there early. Mitchell doesn’t think that his job is easy by any means, but he does hold that belief all the same.
“I'm telling you, (there’s) going to be blood, (and there’s) going to be sweat,” Mitchell said. “We're going to be breathing heavy, (and) the crowd's going to be going nuts. The coaches are going to be yelling, It's going to be nuts.”
While some fighters might spiral a little bit after losing for the first time, Mitchell seems vindicated.
Perhaps stepping into the Topuria fight at less than 100 percent bolsters his ability to shake that loss off easier – the fact that Topuria has risen to become a bona fide title contender probably helps, too – but Mitchell sees September 23 as his night to make a statement.
“I am the cash cow,” he said. “There ain't nobody close. You put me on a pay-per-view (and) the numbers are going to go through the roof. The big dogs are going to realize that, and they're going to realize that there ain't nobody that's a cash cow like me.”
Of course, that claim is only as good as the results Mitchell can deliver. Although his base comes in grappling, Mitchell is by no means a lay-and-pray kind of fighter. He prefers to, as he puts it, “slow cook ‘em to the bone” and melt his opponents. He is the owner of one of three twister submissions in the Octagon and nearly pulled one off again in his next fight. His most impressive performance to date is his decision win over Edson Barboza, who he essentially beat down from bell-to-bell.
That performance was about 18 months ago, though, and Mitchell can’t wait to get his hand raised again. However, that feeling of satisfaction is only coming if he makes history on fight night.
“I want nothing less than something spectacular to happen,” Mithcell said. “I'm not going to be satisfied with just scraping by with the decision. I want a spectacular finish.”
UFC Fight Night: Fiziev vs Gamrot took live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 23, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!