Mitchell faced Topuria in a pivotal featherweight bout in the main card opener of UFC 282, and things did not go well for “Thug Nasty”. Topuria controlled the action from the opening bell and ran roughshod over Mitchell before finishing him in the third round with an arm-triangle choke. After the bout, Mitchell revealed he came down with the flu the week before, which he says led to his poor performance, and speaking with ESPN on Thursday, Mitchell elaborated on why he even took the fight in the first place.
“I was jacked up,” Mitchell said. “That wasn’t me at my best. I had a lot of circumstances going on. People don’t really see all the stuff that the fighter is contemplating before the fight, what the factors are, this and that, and I just don’t think I was at my best.
“Honestly, I had a couple thousand bucks in my bank account, and they told me that, ‘If you don’t take this fight, we’re not finding you one until February We’re booked.’ So it’s like, you can live off a couple thousand bucks in your bank, or you can fight December 10, and if not, f*** off until February. So I said, you know what, I don’t want to live off a couple thousand bucks until February, and I would’ve made it. I could have scrapped by and maybe I should have, but at the time, I thought I’d win the fight. I thought I was going in there with the flu to kick somebody’s ass anyway. And that just wasn’t the case. I was not capable of kicking ass that night.”
Fighter pay has become an increasingly prevalent topic in the MMA space in recent years, and Mitchell is not the only athlete to find fighting as a tough way to pay the bills. But even after what happened, Mitchell still says he has no complaints about the UFC’s pay.
“I didn’t have to [fight],” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t dying for the money. I could have made it. I would not have starved to death, and all my bills would have been paid, but then I just kept thinking, ‘What if they tell me a fight in February and it doesn’t happen in February?’ There was uncertainty. I didn’t know what was going to happen if I didn’t take the fight, and in my head I told myself I was going to win anyways...
“Here’s the thing with my money: I invest it. I don’t just waste it. I chose to invest it. I knew that I would only have a little bit left and I was expecting that fight to come around — I was expecting to win money too — so I don’t know. I’m not really complaining about the financial side of it. But to say it wasn’t a factor, that would be a lie...
“I’m not mad about my financial situation. I’m very happy, very blessed, but I was a little bit worried about not having money until February.”
Mitchell then added that money was not the only factor at play in his decision: personality played a role as well.
“That was one factor making me want to take it, was the money, but it wasn’t the only factor. I also didn’t want to be a b****,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to show that I’m not a b****, and that I showed up and fought when I said that I would, even though I was hurting. I just wish I wasn’t sick.”
The loss was the first of Mitchell’s professional career and while in the immediate aftermath of the fight he hinted at retirement, Mitchell says that he wasn’t thinking clearly at the time. Instead, Mitchell plans to return to action this year, likely in the summer.
“I’m probably too anxious to get back in, because I probably need to heal myself,” Mitchell said. “I probably took a lot of brain damage in that one. That stuff, I don’t think it ever recovers, but a couple months would definitely help. But I am anxious to prove that I can do better, I’m not going to lie...
“I feel like I could do better right now. I’d love to prove it, but I’m going to wait until I run out of money again and then I’m going to take another fight. But I’ll be out of money, shoot, it will probably be by summer.”