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Exclusive: PFL Europe's John Mitchell on journey from rowing world championships to the octagon

Before entering the world of MMA, John Mitchell was an accomplished rower and competed in Junior European and World Championships.

John Mitchell is just three wins away from becoming PFL Europe champion and claiming $100,000 as he prepares to begin the inaugural tournament against Geysim Derouiche. 

The Irishman is currently forging an impressive professional career in the octagon, though Mitchell's sporting career could've gone in a completely different direction if not for his move to MMA.

The 26-year-old enjoyed countless successes as a rower and amateur boxer before switching to his current profession.

He told Planet Sport: "I've been a competitor in sports all my life. When I was younger I had far too much energy, and when I was 13 my mother put me down for rowing because you could see a river near my house.

"I went to the World Championship, European Championship and won loads of titles. But I always knew that fighting was going to be the one for me.

"When I was 17, I came back from the World Championships and I knew then that if I was going to make it to the very top [of the fighting business], then I needed to start now.

"I started boxing at 17 and fought after one month. Just kept going from there, competing all the time. As an amateur, I was the UK and Irish number one, I had 15 amateur fights in MMA as well as boxing and Thai boxing.
"Seven years ago, I was fighting in Thailand, so it's just been competition after competition since I was 13."

Mitchell is now looking to go all the way in the inaugural PFL Europe tournament which offers a spot on the main roster for the winner.

The Irishman boasts an impressive 6-1 professional record and will arrive at PFL Europe 2 on the back of a first-round victory over Srikant Sekhar last March.

Mitchell admitted that the combination of his mentality and athleticism serves him well in the world of mixed martial arts.

"I think there's certain things that happen in everyone's lives that definitely influence them to go in a certain way," he said.
"I've definitely had my influences that directed me towards fighting. But I also developed a lot of it from sport, I've always been a competitor. I've always been an athlete. But outside of sport, I've always been a fighter. Combining them all together I knew it was going to work well for MMA.
"I think your life determines your grace. One thing's for sure, a hungry fighter is always better. I've seen that all my career.

"Being from Cork, being from that part of Ireland, no one ever gave me s**t. Everything I have I did with two hands.

"No handouts, everything taken myself. I definitely bring that little chip on my shoulder into every fight because everything I've built, I've done it with my two hands.
"I'm training in the morning, training in the evening, probably a session between that. Then I'm coaching. Now I'm fully divulged in the sport. I couldn't be happier, it's all I do. But to be honest, I'm not very good at anything else."
Fans can follow PFL Europe 2 - including Mitchell's fight with Derouiche - live on DAZN.
READ MORE: Exclusive: PFL Europe contender Dylan Tuke on being bullied, MMA story and surviving on a tenner

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