Mitch Clarke needs just two words—“roller coaster”—to describe the past 12 months.
“Lots of ups and downs,” the 27-year-old Saskatoon product says.
Clarke kicked off 2012 hard on the heels of his first career defeat—his big-show debut against John Cholish at UFC 140—and followed that up with a split decision loss to Anton Kuivanen in July.
The loss would’ve been bad enough for Clarke, who was undefeated in nine bouts before signing with the UFC in 2011, but the former University of Saskatchewan walk-on wrestler blew out his knee 20 seconds into the bout.
But even the worst roller coasters go up, too.
Prior to Clarke’s second bout in the UFC, he found himself at the MMA Lab in Glendale and earlier this month, Clarke had his knee surgery and is preparing to return to the canvas in 2013.
It has been a trying year, to be certain, but Clarke, a man who watches more cartoons than many children, remains optimistic.
The loss, the injury, my personal life basically going down the tubes post fight led to an emotional time, says Clarke, who hopes to be back to 100 percent by mid-January. But it also helped strengthen a lot of personal relationships and build brand new ones, like meeting and training with Brian Cobb in the states and I found a new home for my training camps at the MMA Lab under John Crouch and Benson Henderson.
With a new “family” in Arizona to help him prepare for his return to the octagon, Clarke is hoping to make 2013—and the years to follow—everything that 2012 wasn’t.
Ed Kapp is a Regina, Saskatchewan-based journalist. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations were obtained firsthand.