Mitch Gagnon has been generating some hype around his name lately.
The local mixed martial artist stepped into the octagon Sept. 21 for UFC 165. It was a big night for the Sudbury native.
Up against Dustin Kimura in the bantamweight bout, Gagnon was looking to put a blemish in the Hawaiian's perfect 11-0 record.
Only 4:05 into the first round, after taking a hard blow from his opponent, Gagnon countered a takedown attempt and quickly had Kimura locked in a guillotine choke.
It was lights out for Kimura while Gagnon's hand was hoisted as the victor. Gagnon was also awarded a bonus $50,000 for Submission of the Night.
"Dustin was a tough opponent," the 29-year-old said. "I knew coming in that Dustin was a stud, he's very passionate, very serious about his sport, so I knew I was in for a big fight.
"Although it looked short, that four minutes of battling was a back-and-forth intense tilt," Gagnon added. "It wasn't just a one-sided fight on my end, he threw some good combinations on me."
While Gagnon, who trains with Sudbury's Team Shredder, said he isn't big on game plans heading into a fight, his goal is to exploit his opponent's weaknesses.
"(Kimura is) very wild and definitely his stand-up wasn't as good as his ground game," Gagnon said. "I was trying to avoid his ground game but when I got on the ground with him, I felt really comfortable there."
Not that Gagnon spent much time on the ground with Kimura. Seconds after the tandem hit the mat, the fight was over.
In an interview with Sportsnet's Sophia Jurksztowicz following the fight, Gagnon said it felt great handing Kimura his first professional loss.
"There was so much hype on him because he was undefeated, so obviously it feels great putting a first loss on someone who is that high a calibre of a fighter and on a win streak like that."
Gagnon wasn't alone in his victory. The crowd at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto was on their feet and roaring for him the entire time.
"It always feels good," Gagnon said of being the "hometown" favourite. "The crowd is on your side and it gives you that energy. It's a great feeling."
UFC 165 also marked a come-back for Gagnon, after being sidelined for a full year and forced to withdraw from UFC 156 in February, due to a knee injury.
"It's not my first time coming off an injury," Gagnon told reporters in the media scrum following his fight. "I just like fighting and I've been inactive so I was hungry to get in there and get it done."
Gagnon, who has been training in martial arts for 15 years and a professional fighter for the past five, boasts a 10-2 record with all 10 wins by submission.
Three of those fights and two of the victories came in the UFC octagon. After losing to Bryan Caraway in his debut at UFC 149, Gagnon bounced back with a first-round submission victory over Walel Watson at UFC 152, as well as a fight of the night designation.
Sportsnet.ca writer Adam Martin described Gagnon as a "rising star."
"Gagnon has all the tools needed to be a top fighter in the sport,and he has the look to become a star, especially in his home province of Ontario," Martin wrote. "Basically, the future is very bright for this young man."
But Gagnon doesn't let those glowing reviews get to his head.
"I don't care to put too much thought into the hype," he said. "I try to stay humble and just try to get better every time."
It may not be an exact game plan, but it seems to be working.