Now he’s on the comeback trail and competes again Saturday at Nick Diaz’s War MMA event in Stockton, Calif. Ahead of his co-main event matchup against Evan Esguerra, Mitchell joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Cheap Seats” show to talk his return, an altercation he had in Guatemala and more.
On why he took so long off: “I started fighting when I was 17 years old, and unfortunately, after I went to Japan and fought ‘Kid’ Yamamoto, I came home and a week later got in a car wreck. That hurt my shoulder a little bit, and I went and played football with some friends, touch turned into tackle, got hit in my same shoulder and got a little bit of nerve damage. It took me about four years to get back from that. I was still training a little bit, but I wasn’t ready to be at the top level of fighting anymore. Then it took me another four years to get back to where I thought I could get back in the cage.”
On whether he thought he might never fight again: “I never doubted it. From being a little kid, I wanted to fight. My first day walking into Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, I told Cesar [Gracie] I wanted to fight. He made me train for two years before he actually put me in the cage. I won my first three fights there. I just love doing it. I don’t see an end for me. I just see the future, and in the future all I’m doing, I’m fighting.”
On his trip to Guatemala: “I’ve visited my grandfather several times in Guatemala. He lives down there. After sailing around the world a couple of times, that’s where he settled. The story comes from last year in March. I went down there and encountered a roadblock where three guys jumped out of the bushes, two of them with machetes, one of them with a rock. They were going to rob me.
“The guy came over and was about to bash my head in with a rock while the two guys with machetes were holding me. I pulled the machete out of one of their hands, hit the guy with the rock and dropped him. The other guy hit me in my head with a machete. I swung around and hit him. The first two guys run off. I turned around to the guy I had taken the machete from, pushed him down a hill and ran up on him, could have finished him off but instead I let him run away. He fell again, did the same thing and he ran away and then I ran away too. So I survived.”
On their struggle to get his wallet out of his pocket: “I guess I blame it on the exchange rate. It’s eight to one or seven-point-something to one and I exchanged a thousand dollars. It was like having eight thousand dollars in your wallet. It was so fat that it was just getting caught on my pocket. They were in a panic trying to pull it out and they just couldn’t get out. I tried to put my hand down there and I guess they didn’t like that because they slapped me with a machete in my side and started yelling at me. I stood up and then I started really getting scared, and when the guy ran over to hit me with the rock, that’s when I realized I’m fighting for my life now.”
On how bad he was hurt: “My hands were all bloody. I don’t know exactly what happened. I fell a couple of times. My knuckles were bloody on the backside. My palms were bloody. My head was bleeding a little bit. I pretty much had a dark blood line right above my ear, about an inch above my ear. I’m lucky I didn’t lose part of my ear in that incident. I didn’t sleep all night because I was afraid I had a concussion. The machete was really dull, so luckily it didn’t cut my head completely open. Instead it was like a big bump. … Ultimately I felt like I survived with minimal wounds in such a circumstance.”
On his future in MMA: “I’d love it if this show would really do well and I could keep fighting for Nick Diaz Promotions and keep fighting in War, but I’m pretty much open to anything. The UFC, to me, that’d be fine. It’s not like a whole dream. When I first started, my dream was to fight in Japan. I went and I did that. Truthfully, I didn’t really like it. They brought me there purposely, trying to get me to lose. They gave me a bed that was five feet long. My feet were hanging off the bed by 10 inches. They didn’t treat me as well as I expected them to treat me. With that said, yeah, sure, I’ll fight in the UFC, but if people that I’m close to, people that I love continue, I’d be just as thrilled to continue fighting in War or any other organization.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:02:16).