In his biggest test to date, Bryce Mitchell returned from a 16-month layoff at UFC 272, paired up against Brazilian veteran Edson Barboza.
It was a classic striker vs. grappler match-up in the featherweight division, though Mitchell insisted ahead of the fight that he was a well-rounded fighter and ready to take the fight to Barboza where ever it went.
The fight was heavy on action, with both fighters having their moments in the opening round.
Barboza opened up the affair chopping at the lead leg of Mitchell— and the leg kicks looked nasty. But it was Bryce Mitchell who did the damage early, popping Barboza with a left hand and sitting him down.
Mitchell went right after the Brazilian; he pulled the legs out from under Barboza and got him on his back. From there, Mitchell went to work with just over half the round to make something happen. He’d eat up about two minutes in top control before Barboza escaped out, which allowed him to fire a spinning back kick to the body that sailed wide, then land a right hand moments later.
Early in round two, Mitchell scored a takedown out in the open. Far from the fence, Barboza found himself eating elbows and soon had a nasty cut opened up. Barboza finally shrimped back to the fence, but had his guard closed. Mitchell smashed home with another elbow, then turned Barboza, getting his back away from the fence.
That was all for not, as Barboza popped up anything— only to be taken down again. Mitchell nearly made it to mount, and even from Barboza’s half-guard managed to do plenty of damage. Heading to the third, Mitchell was easily up on the scorecards. If this was a test, “Thug Nasty” was passing.
A minute into round three, Mitchell again landed a textbook takedown. And once again, Barboza was nowhere near the fence. This time, he threw up a triangle, perhaps thinking arm-bar, but Mitchell wrenched Barboza up, dropped him back down and broke free, will still maintaining top position.
Mitchell would make it to mount late in the round, and while they’d go the distance, the Arkansas fighter outright schooled the Brazilian on the ground. Takedown after takedown, tons of ground n’ pound, leading to a one-sided unanimous decision win.
Official Result: Bryce Mitchell def. Edson Barboza by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27)