It’s a testament to how fast time flies when you realize that Fili turned just 30 this past June, mere days after his win over Canadian phenom Charles Jourdain. That victory marked his 15th UFC fight since his promotional debut in 2013, a stretch that, whether he won or lost, filled his résumé with names like Gabriel Benitez, Max Holloway, Dennis Bermudez, Yair Rodriguez, Artem Lobov, Clavin Kattar and Hacran Dias.
It’s not a stretch to say that Fili has fought in two distinct eras, not only of the UFC, but of the sport, in general.
“I feel like I have grown up in the UFC. You guys have seen my highest highs and my lowest lows, back to getting high highs again. You’ve seen me go up-down-up. I love this company, I love this sport and watching this weight class evolve. I think it’s wide open right now, and I’m excited for my turn to get that belt.”
Regardless of the era, Fili has never shied away from the brightest talent the featherweight division has had to offer. The victory over Jourdain stunted the rise of the highly touted prospect, a storyline he’d like to repeat Saturday when he faces another rising sensation in Arkansas’s Mitchell. Undefeated in four UFC bouts, The Ultimate Fighter alumnus has endeared himself to MMA fans with his disarming countrified persona and sinister ground game.