One word rises to the top in conversation with Roman Mitichyan—blessing. The Armenian-born former UFC fighter identifies many events in his life as a blessing, even those that others wouldn’t necessarily view so favorably. This optimistic outlook has seen him through the tough transition from fighter to stuntman to actor—with director soon to be added to the list.
For fans of The Ultimate Fighter, Mitichyan may be remembered for his dramatic bookends of season six. Already an actor and stuntman, as well as accomplished martial artist, Mitichyan had found in TUF a perfect vehicle for all he brought to the table. Unfortunately, the season opened with tough news for the welterweight—he had suffered a broken elbow. However, this devastating turn of events was softened by a promise from Dana White: if Mitichyan healed up by the finale White would bring him back. “And he kept that promise,” Mitichyan says.
Defeating Dorian Price in 23 seconds by submission (ankle lock), Mitichyan scored a dramatic victory and a UFC contract. His next fight was a loss, and would spell the end of his UFC career. The fact he didn’t get another chance in the UFC remains a disappointment, but, speaking to Bloody Elbow, Mitichyan is quick to point out that the entire experience was a blessing.
Mitichyan’s perspective has no doubt been shaped by growing up in Armenia, a small nation shadowed by conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan. His childhood in the 80’s was marked by Soviet rule and then, beginning in 1991, within an independent Armenia now engaged in open warfare with its neighbor. Although Armenia would come away the victor in 1994, tough sanctions kept life difficult. In this conflict-ridden environment it was expected for all boys to take up martial arts at age six or seven. Mitichyan began in freestyle wrestling before moving to Sambo-Judo under coach Baxshik Saroyan. A natural, he soon became a national champion.