“It’s honestly a trip. I’ve been watching this show since I was a little kid and I used to joke with my friends that maybe one day I would be on it. To actually be on it is crazy to me, but I’m going to enjoy it and have fun with it.”
Who Is Mitch Raposo?
They call him “Killa” Mitch. I think it should be Money Mitch, but that’s neither here nor there. Raposo is a 22-year-old bantamweight that fights out of Regiment Training Center in Fall River, Massachusetts. As most of you know by now, he was Team Volkanovski’s first pick on Episode 1 of TUF 29. That’s for good reason and by no means random. Many believe Raposo will usher in a new wave of mixed martial arts talent from the New England region.
The highly-touted prospect has been molded by high school wrestling coach Chris Antao and through the leadership of RTC striking coach Brian Raposo, and grappling coach Tommy Teixeira. Under Top Game Management Raposo has had the luxury of training and gaining knowledge with premier local talent. Fighters such as Yorgan De Castro (teammate), Calvin Kattar, Rob Font, and Greg Rebello have helped Raposo gain priceless experience. He has hungry training partners as well. Young guns like Aaron Hughes and Kris Moutinho are always in the gym sharpening their iron alongside Mitch.
The Durfee High School standout in wrestling passed up several opportunities to compete in college. He did this in order to pursue a career in MMA full-time, something Raposo aspired to do since he began training at just 12 years old. Standing at 5’5″ with a 64″ reach as the youngest of two siblings, Raposo has always been a scrappy competitor. What he lacks in size, the Fall River native is sure to make up for in heart, fight IQ, well-roundedness, and dedication. Proficiency and sound technique have helped the former flyweight find his footing in the bantamweight division.
Side Note: While reach is important and being the rangier fighter can be helpful, I firmly believe it is easier to punch up than it is to punch down. Such is the case with Raposo and most of his opponents. His style also conforms well to his size. We will get into this more in “How Does Mitch Raposo Utilize His Martial Arts Skill?”.
What Has Mitch Raposo Accomplished?
“I would say I’m that next generation. You know I’ve been training since I was a little kid, yea I only have five pro fights, and yea I’m only 22 years old, but I feel like my fight IQ is far beyond that.”
It’s no secret Raposo has a bright future ahead of him, but let’s look at what he’s accomplished already. As an amateur, the 22-year-old went 6-0, capturing flyweight titles in both amateur Cage Titans and Ammo Fight League promotions. He won all six fights by unanimous decision with ease, never losing a round. Booking fights with like opponents in the Northeast soon became a difficult task for Raposo and his team. These circumstances provided the amateur champion all of the incentives he needed to turn pro.
If his ability to finish the fight was in question, Raposo immediately answered it by winning his first three professional fights by first-round stoppage. Now, 5-0 as a pro in the bantamweight division, Raposo holds a combined record of 11-0 with two submission victories and one knockout. Unless we’re comparing him to Jon Jones, that’s a wealth of success and experience for someone his age.
Raposo has made his M.O. winning fights dominantly and taking little to no damage on his route to victory. So far, “Killa” Mitch has been flawless. However, the TUF house will pose new challenges. Raposo will be isolated, often tested by other fighters, and will have to maintain his focus and temperament throughout his journey on Team Volkanovski.
How Does Raposo Utilize His Martial Arts Skill Inside The Cage?
As someone who lives and trains in New England, following the growth of local prospects is almost done mechanically. Exceptional on the regional scene, Raposo has always looked a cut above his fellow competitors. When I break down his style, I see shades of veterans like Chad Mendes and Frankie Edgar.
Grappling-wise, Raposo is a standout. He backpacks and breaks opponents. His wrestling is polished and he has solid Jiu-Jitsu. The timing on his takedowns is impeccable and that alone makes him a pure nuisance in the cage for anyone. Standing, Raposo stays light as a feather on his feet. He moves a lot, using level changes, feints, and pretty footwork to keep his opponents guessing. Covering distance and using elusiveness to strike/mixing up strikes, are two other elements of Raposo’s game he implements very well.
In his pro debut at Cage Titans 43 against Rob Fuller, Raposo was able to secure the early takedown. From there, he seamlessly transitioned from side control to full mount, locking in his arm-triangle choke along the way, then into side control to finish. As you can see below, Raposo uses clean technique (flattening his opponent out, controlling top position) and a tight squeeze to prevent any separation between himself and Fuller. He gets the tap 1 minute and 37 seconds into the first round and tosses his mouthguard into the fifth row.
Wasting little time, Raposo took his second pro fight four months later at Cage Titans 45 against Raymond Yanez. He finished this fight in a similar method. Yanez slipped while throwing a lackluster head kick and shot a desperation double leg to follow. Raposo sprawled and capitalized, choking his opponent out 1 minute and 41 seconds into round one. The goal is to smother and control. Below you can see Raposo patiently waiting for Yanez to give him exactly what he wants. The fight ends via rear-naked choke and once again, Raposo hurls his mouth guard into the fifth row.
Three months later Raposo was back doing what he loves at Cage Titans 46. This time he planned to show his growing fanbase how explosive he truly is. Fighting a much larger Zachary Burhans, Raposo landed a devastating overhand right to earn his first career knockout. Look at how well Raposo negates his opponent’s reach advantage. All of his power comes from his legs as he completely throws off Burhans strike defense by pawing with the lead hand.
After a pair of fizzled bouts, Raposo would win both his fourth and fifth pro fights by unanimous decision against Ron Leon and Matt Almy. In doing so, Raposo was able to display his superior wrestling and reflexes, imposing his will on both men. I couldn’t help but notice distinct similarities between Raposo and Chad Mendes. Mendes has a similar stature and was known for his explosive double leg and deceptive power.
Mendes scores his take-down while utilizing raw power, away from the cage, and without striking to enter. Raposo however, closes the distance with a three-punch combo and uses the cage to secure the textbook double leg take-down. He’s explosive and then immediately conservative once the fight is on the canvas. Additionally, Raposo distributes his 135 lbs effectively, making himself incredibly hard to sweep once he has his opponent where he wants them.
Here you can see the quick reflexes and fast-twitch muscle fibers at work as Raposo immediately replies to a leg kick with a take-down. Mendes used to do this very well. Essentially this will leave your opponent stuck, worrying that when they strike they won’t be able to defend the takedown, hence limiting their offense. It helps smaller fighters like Raposo and Mendes eliminate space and dictate the fight.
In route to pursuing his lifelong dream Raposo has earned himself a golden opportunity on the newest season of The Ultimate Fighter. He will be able to give the public audience a taste of his personality and a glimpse of his potential in an attempt to earn a coveted UFC contract. I know Raposo has a bright future ahead of him, but I think people will be quite surprised when they witness his passion for fighting. Win or lose, simply being on the show is going to catapult the 22-year-olds career.
You can catch Mitch Raposo Tuesday night at 9 PM ET on ESPN + when he takes on Liudvik Sholinian (9-1-1) in the quarter-finals.