Mitch Clarke Weighs in on “Performance of the Night” Victory at UFC 173, “I’m Not Just Cannon Fodder”, “I’m Here to Win”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Heading into UFC 173, Mitch Clarke made it clear he planned on playing “spoiler” versus Al Iaquinta, and he did just that by choking the lightweight out with a highlight reel, D’arce choke. Immediately after the memorable win, a fired up Clarke shouted ‘don’t sleep on me’ to the viewing audience, further indicating that he was well aware of his underdog status.
“I think it was just a little bit of frustration with how much everyone was just overlooking every aspect of my game,” Clarke said on a recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio, while discussing his comeback victory. “In the UFC, I haven’t shown a lot of my grappling ability unfortunately, and I don’t think anyone expected me to submit, let alone choke out Al.”
The victory follow Clarke’s unanimous decision win over John Maguire last June, and evened the 28 year-old’s UFC record at 2 and 2. Prior to the recent fight, Iaquinta had won three straight bouts.
“I just want people to know that I’m not a bad fighter,” furthered Clarke. “I’m not just cannon fodder for Al like some people were saying. I work hard and I put on good fights for the fans. When I said that, I didn’t know he was unconscious. I didn’t know he actually fell asleep, but more than anything, it was don’t sleep on me, I can win these fights from bad positions. I’m here to fight and I’m here to win.”
While Clarke dropped jaws throughout the MMA world with the beautifully, executed choke, it came after an opening round which saw Iaquinta surge ahead on the score cards.
“In between rounds, John Crouch was like ‘okay, we have him right where we want him’, and he got a little bit of a smile, and it was time to reset,” said Clarke, while relaying what the MMA Lab coach jokingly told him on May 24th. “If I had to go win the next two rounds then that was what I was going to do.”
“Unfortunately I had a bad start and I came out flatter than I should have,” Clarke added. “Against a really good guy like Al you can’t do that.”
The fight ending choke not only buzzed fans, but it also earned Clarke “Performance of the Night” honors and an extra $50,000.
“Not really. I was just happy with the win, in of itself,” said Clarke, when asked if he thought he might nab a fight night bonus immediately after the victory. “My corner man were like ‘yeah’, because it was a slick move, but I didn’t really think too much of it because it’s a move I like to do in the gym.”
“As (Joe) Rogan said, I think that was the first time they’ve seen that in the Octagon,” the Edmonton based fighter said about the choke, which he sunk in as Iaquinta attempted to pass his guard. “That transition through to that finish, and I choked him unconscious with it, so, it wasn’t really on my mind…I feel very lucky and blessed that Dana White said my name when he was listing off the performances of the night.”
UFC 173 was hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.