The quip “living my best life” has been so overused of late that it has almost lost all meaning. But one need only spend a few minutes watching Bryce Mitchell’s YouTube docuseries Home Grown Fighter to understand the original intention of that phrase. Following the UFC featherweight through his happy rural life in Arkansas, it depicts a paradise distilled into the show’s tagline “Fishin’. Trainin’. Farmin’. Huntin’.”
The national coronavirus quarantine has done little to dampen the spirit of his rustic utopia, as Megan Olivi discovered when she caught up with him early in the lockdown.
In addition to pushing the kids in a wheelbarrow to build endurance, Mitchell admitted spending the time doing, “just a bunch of crazy stuff. Driving around in the mud. Gettin’ stuck. Catching catfish. Training. Hanging out with my old lady…I’m just doing the best that I can. I’m just having fun.”
In other words, business as usual. When social distancing is already built into your existence, little needs to change.
UFC legend Matt Hughes will forever be associated the Hank Williams, Jr. song “A Country Boy Can Survive,” but if there’s a torchbearer in the modern UFC, it most certainly has to be Mitchell.
His unfiltered authenticity, which first came to light as a cast member on TUF 27, has earned him legions of fans and followers in just three UFC fights. Coupled with his prowess in jiu-jitsu, he’s also caught the eye of the boss himself.
“He is without a doubt the most exciting featherweight to watch right now,” says UFC President Dana White. That’s exceedingly high praise when you share a division with the likes of Alexander Volkanovski, Max Holloway, Brian Ortega and fellow UFC 249 fighter Calvin Kattar, to name a few.
“This fight on paper is nothing but action,” adds White, nodding to Mitchell’s tilt this Saturday against Charles Rosa.
In 13 professional fights, “Thug Nasty” has ended nine of them by submission. The most recent came against Matt Sayles last December, a thrilling first-round performance that resulted in only the second twister submission in promotion history.
The response from the crowd and commentators that night in Washington D.C. was electric, but in the aftermath, Mitchell was only concerned about one thing, and it wasn’t calling out a future opponent.
“Reebok, y’all are gonna have to kill me or make some camo shorts ‘cause I ain’t shuttin’ up ‘til then!”
As he has asked every time there has been a microphone nearby, all Mitchell wanted, and continues to want, is a UFC fight kit emblazoned with camouflage, the signature of a real country boy.
His new army of fans has taken up the cause on his behalf, loudly lobbying Reebok to give their man what he’s asking for.
“My people won’t leave them alone,” he wrote on social media, displaying a screen shot of the many requests for camo. “But I can’t call off the hounds, they’re savages. I’m tryna get @reebok sum peace and quiet. Just need the camo.”
And now that his Octagon skills have gotten the boss’ attention, Mitchell has no issue taking his request right to the top.
“We’re in the middle of pandemic, we’re doing everything we can do to pull off the event,” says White with a mixture of amusement and exasperation. “You want us to make sure we find camo shorts for you with the Reebok deal?”
“Soon,” says White quietly. “We’ll get you camo shorts soon.”
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