Mitch Clarke Talks UFC 161 Win: “It Was Nice to Have a Little Bit of Redemption”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Mitch Clarke’s victory over John Maguire at UFC 161 may not have been the most dominant performance of his career, but it was certainly his most important. Coming off back-to-back losses to John Cholish and Anton Kuivanen to begin his UFC tenure, Clarke was in need of a win on June 15th and delivered just that. In addition, Clarke’s unanimous decision victory also came after a difficult eleven month stretch for the Edmonton based lightweight, who underwent knee and eye surgery during that time.
“Going into it the biggest thing was to not fight emotionally,” Clarke told Full Contact Fighter, while discussing the emotion he displayed at UFC 161 following the win. “If I had gone in charging at John it could have ended very poorly…the main thing was to stay calm, listen to John (Crouch), my other cornermen and stick to my gameplan. It was nice when they announced my name; it was nice to have a little bit of redemption, a little bit of vindication, for everything that’s happened over the last year.”
Now that Clarke (10-2) has ensured his position with the UFC, and the emotions of the win have subsided somewhat, the 27 year-old fighter’s had some time to sit back and review the competitive bout.
“I made a couple of mistakes,” said Clarke, who also revealed he cracked his foot during the bout, and will have to take it easy for a few weeks as a result. “I’m a little bit, not disappointed, but there are a couple of things I could have done better…we thought he was going to do a couple of things differently. We thought he was going to move forward a bit more, and he didn’t really have an interest in doing that once I started making him back up.”
“I thought he was going to be way stronger than me in certain situations and that wasn’t the case,” added Clarke. “He also didn’t really go for the double leg too often…he’s got a strong double leg and that’s what we were looking for. He went really well from the single leg to taking my back. I wish he didn’t have my back so much but I did a good job of defending. I thought I fought well. I was trying to make it an exciting fight.”
The bout marked Maguire’s lightweight debut, as after dropping UD losses to John Hathaway and Matt Riddle in his last two Octagon appearances, the British fighter elected to drop down from welterweight.
“On fight night I was 178 pounds by the time I stepped into the Octagon,” Clarke relayed, while discussing the fact he didn’t feel overpowered by the former welterweight as he had expected. “So I’m a pretty big lightweight. Someone asked me the other day if I’d consider dropping to 145 and that’s definitely not going to happen.”
“Even right now I’m over 185 pounds,” added Clarke. “Granted I’m full of salt and I’m fat, but I’m a bigger lightweight than some, so I didn’t have a bad cut, we had the science behind it just as much as he did…I was surprised at the strength difference.”
Clarke also credited the time he spent training at the MMA Lab in Arizona, and with the gym’s renowned instructor John Crouch, for helping him secure his first UFC win.
“I’m definitely looking forward to going down there again…”Clarke noted about the gym, which is home to UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson, as well as several other established fighters like Joe Riggs and Jamie Varner. “It’s a great facility, great coaches, great people. I really think it starts at the head with John Crouch, Benson, and all the other coaches there and trickles down to everyone else.”
You can hear the entire interview with Clarke on this week’s edition of Full Contact Fighter Radio.