It has been almost three years since anyone had seen David Mitchell even near full strength, but when he returned at UFC on Fox 6 it was like a dark cloud finally lifted and he could see the sun again.
Mitchell returned to action and defeated Simeon Thoresen in the opening bout on the entire card, but it didn't matter when, where or how he got back in the cage to compete. He was just happy to be there.
While his actual time out of fighting was just about 17 months, Mitchell hadn't been himself since a neck injury prevented him from gaining real power on one side of his body for the better part of three long years. He finally had surgery to repair the impinged nerve that was causing him to lose power to the left side of his body, and even though he's still not fully recovered, he feels better now than he has in years.
"It feels good I'm still rebuilding the strength. I can see in some of the pictures that the left shoulder is still smaller, but a couple more months of working out and getting the in gym it should be back to 100-percent. It didn't give me any pain, it felt good," said Mitchell when speaking to Bleacher Report.
"Looking at the tape I've watched it maybe a dozen times now, I definitely felt like I should have finished in the second round, but Simeon's (Thoresen) is a tough guy and he didn't want to give it up. It felt good either way. A 'W' is a 'W'."
Prior to losing two fights in a row in the UFC, Mitchell was one of the top welterweight prospects in all of mixed martial arts. He had won eleven fights in eleven tries, and beaten some notable names including current UFC lightweight Bobby Green, Tim McKenzie and the fighter formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver, better known today as War Machine.
Then he got the long awaited call to come to the UFC, but he did so with the knowledge that he was going to compete against the best in the world at way less than 100-percent.
"I would say I fought Paulo Thiago at maybe 50-percent. I really had no strength in my left side, pain just from someone touching my neck, but now I don't really have those problems anymore. However, I need more time to rebuild and just get back to 100-percent and evolve into a better fighter. Hopefully next time I'll be all the way at 90 or 100-percent," said Mitchell.
"In the future hopefully people will get to see the real David Mitchell. When you saw me fight Bobby Green or War Machine when I was on top of my game."
Now just because Mitchell got back in the cage and won a fight doesn't mean it's mission accomplished all of a sudden. He's still got a losing record overall in the UFC, and he's not going to be satisfied until that's rectified.
The biggest thing in David Mitchell's mind right now is the fact that he's physically feeling better than he has in years, and that in turn has put his mind back on the right track.
"Right now, I'm still 1-2 in the UFC. The overall record of 12-2 sounds good, but my next goal is to bring that UFC record to an even .500, go out there and get another win hopefully some time in the summer. I'm looking for good fights, I'd obviously love a rematch against Paulo Thiago or even T.J. Waldburger once I get back to 100-percent because I definitely feel like I can hang with those guys and more," said Mitchell.
"I kind of have to look at it as a new start. The physical handicap became a mental handicap. I had won eleven fights in a row, now I'm in the UFC and I'm all messed up. It got in my head and then I didn't train well, and I had a lot of stress about it. This is a fresh start."
Damon Martin is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.