The Unusual Quality Of Bryce Mitchell
By James Lee
As this Saturday’s UFC event will pay an underwhelming homage to the last fight of Anderson Silva, we are presented with an odd symbol of the contrasting talent and diversity that exists currently in mixed martial arts.
As people picture a typical martial arts practitioner, most would perceive Silva as that
universal figurehead. His flexible and flashy style is something comparable to those exemplified in martial arts cinematic history. Moreover, his mannerisms and roots in Brazil are typical to that of a traditional martial artist and accompany the long history of combat in South America.
However, when comparing with a fellow fighter on the card in Bryce Mitchell, he is the complete antithesis to Silva, being an unassuming, innocent 13-0 competitor who looks like he does not belong inside the most skilled arena in combat.
Frankly, Mitchell reminds the community as somebody who should be solely reserved for the Southern American regional scene, and one that most likely spent the large majority of his combat experience in the local circuit, rather than the octagon canvas of the UFC.
But, as stereotypes in mixed martial arts usually allocate Eastern European fighters to
wrestling and Brazilian fighters to grappling, ‘Thug Nasty’ proves those stereotypes wrong, and affirms that world-class grappling can, in fact, be found in the Deep South of Arkansas.
It is obviously unfair to ever compare anybody to Anderson Silva, however, it is compelling and extremely positive to see that an elite level of skill is not now reserved individually for several gyms and areas in the world.
The most suitable example to illustrate his high-level of skill came in his last bout against Charles Rosa. Few can dispute the prolonged experience and quality of Rosa, especially considering his Brazilian jiu-jitsu accolades under the widely-acclaimed Ricardo Liborio.
After making his debut in 2014, Rosa overcame notable names like Manny Bermudez, Kyle Bochniak and Sean Soriano, as well as losing a close split decision to the highly touted Yair Rodriguez.
Despite that, Mitchell made his skillset look incompetent as he enjoyed lengthy grappling success in the pair’s outing in April. Before that contest, Mitchell had rightfully acclaimed himself as an exciting fighter, but that was the one that cemented his path.
The fanbase was initially introduced to Mitchell during the underwhelming The Ultimate Fighter Season 27, where he failed to progress to the Finale, after falling short to Brad Katona via submission.
Admittedly, Mitchell’s fighting ability did not stand out on a lacklustre season for the
organisation, yet upon securing his contract with a victory over fellow TUF 27 alumni Tyler Diamond, Mitchell has transformed into a completely different fighter.
A decision win over Bobby Moffett afterwards intrigued a few, though it must be said his hype heightened ten-fold after he secured only the second twister submission in the promotion’s twenty-seven-year history.
As that special spot was reserved solely for Chan Sung Jung for years, the Arkansas native put himself amongst the shallow history of unique submission finishes in the UFC.
Saturday’s fight poses the toughest test of his career, however. Andre Fili has fought some
of the best the 145 lbs division has ever had to offer and poses a competent test in the grappling realm, but a notably tough striking test. Nevertheless, Fili is a must-win for anybody wanting to realise contender status.
Ultimately, Bryce Mitchell is one of the best prospects in the sport, despite not looking
like he would assume that role. However, his current win streak and skillset cannot be denied, and at just twenty-six years of age, the UFC’s featherweight division may have a surprising, but prolonged contender for a considerable period.