UFC 173: Mitch Clarke May Not Have a “Shtick”, But Lightweight Plans to “Play Spoiler” Versus Al Iaquinta
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although Mitch Clarke is coming off a victory, and has fought in the Octagon three times to date, the lightweight admits he didn’t expect the assignment he was given for UFC 173. On Saturday night, Clarke will take on TUF 15 finalist Al Iaquinta, who has won three straight fights now since losing to Michael Chiesa in 2012.
“I was kind of surprised to be honest,” Clarke said on a recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio, when asked for his reaction upon finding out he’d face Iaquinta next. “He’s on a three fight win streak; I just won my last fight, so I was kind of surprised. I thought they would try and build him up and give him, like some more star power kind of thing, someone a little bit more hip, so to say.”
“Someone who is a little bit more well known,” Clarke furthered. “I am completely aware that I am not the most popular fighter. I just kind of blend into the background unfortunately. I’m not very outspoken; I just like to train hard and fight hard, and that’s not everybody’s thing. Some people like people with shtick, and I don’t really have one.”
While Clarke concedes he may not be a familiar a name to casual fans, a memorable win over the surging Iaquinta could change all that.
“I’m looking to play spoiler again,” said Clarke (10-2), who is coming off a unanimous decision win over John Maguire, after dropping bouts to Anton Kuivanen and John Cholish. “I don’t think a lot of people gave me much of a chance against John Maguire; he’s a tough guy, won at 170, had “Submission of the Night”, “Fight of the Night”, you know, he’s a good fighter and I beat him.”
“I think that surprised a lot of people, and I think a lot of people are thinking the same thing with Al, but I think I pose a lot of problems for him, just like I did for John Maguire,” added Clarke, who spent ten weeks training for UFC 173 at the renowned MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona. “I think that it will be a tough fight, but I think it will be a good fight, and I definitely plan on playing the spoiler in this one.”
Although Iaquinta is coming off three, consecutive, decision wins, the powerful fighter’s record also includes several stoppage victories. So, it will be interesting to see how Iaquinta approaches the bout Saturday, considering his wrestling background and the size of Clarke.
“I’m a little bit more physical; I’m bigger than him, he’s 5’7, he’s stout, he’s a thick kid but I’m 5’11, long, and I think he’s going to have a lot of problems with how physical I am and how big I am,” said Clarke. “I’m a big lightweight.”
“When I fought Maguire, by fight night I was 180 pounds,” furthered Clarke, who trains out of Complete Fitness and Martial Arts in St. Albert, Alberta, when he’s in Canada. “So, I think that poses a lot of problems. I don’t really look it because I’m long, I’m taller. Gleison Tibau comes back to 180, and because he’s 5’6, 5’7, he looks like a bowling ball that’s coming at you. Me being as tall as I am it fills out differently…I’ve taken down All Americans, stuff like that, I’m a decent wrestler.”
UFC 173 will be hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will feature bantamweight champ Renan Barao taking on TJ Dillashaw.