Mitch Gagnon likely didn’t even think twice when his manager told him the UFC had a great opportunity for him this year.
Gagnon will face former bantamweight champion and No. 1 ranked Renan Barao in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 58 on December 20 from Brazil.
And, despite being newly-ranked, the Canadian will be a heavy underdog.
Which should sit perfectly with him.
Gagnon, who just turned 30 years old a few days ago, has picked up four consecutive victories – three of which have been submissions – since debuting with the UFC in 2012 and losing to Bryan Caraway. His wins have come against Roman Salazar, Tim Gorman, Dustin Kimura and Walel Watson, which is not exactly a who’s who of the division, but they still count as wins.
There were plenty of likely candidates the UFC could have tabbed to meet Barao, who will be competing for the first time since losing the title T.J. Dillashaw. His planned rematch was scrapped after he collapsed while cutting weight and was not cleared by officials.
A member of Team Shredder out of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, Gagnon will have to take the long way to stunning the world. He has yet to compete professional outside of his native country, an issue in and of itself.
Back in 2012 when Gagnon was expected to make his Octagon debut, his fight with Johnny Bedford for Chicago was cancelled due to visa issues. He made his first appearance a few months later vs. Caraway.
In an ironic twist, Gagnon was actually replaced by Dillashaw for a fight in 2013 with Issei Tamura. He also had another fight get pushed to the side after visa problems kept him out of Australia.
Hopefully for Gagnon, those issues will be in the past and he can try to shock the MMA world just like Dillashaw did vs. Barao.