Rich "No Love" Clementi played spoiler for many Canadian fans at UFC 83: "St. Pierre vs. Serra 2" with his tough split decision victory over Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout. The shower of boos from some 21 000 fans didn’t phase Clementi, in fact it did the opposite.
Here’s a snip:
"Being booed pumped me up a little bit … whether it’s cheers or boos it’s the energy that matters, I used that a little to my favor."
The Canadian fans lived up to their stereotype of being overtly polite, however, only after the fight was over:
"The crowd in Montreal and the fans are just awesome … even afterwards I had fans come up to me and say ‘I felt bad booing you’ and they apologized and asked for my autograph."
Shortly after his win, Clementi received a call to fill in for an injured Rob Emerson who was slated to face Terry Etim at UFC 84: "Ill Will" on May 24. Without a thought Clementi jumped at the opportunity. After a tough three-round war with Stout, Clementi is going to have a brief break.
In fact, he said he would, "… take a few days to relax my mind and to get refocused and then I’m right back at it."
And his thoughts on the 10-1 British fighter, Terry Etim:
"He’s another young kid, and the thing about him is he’s not really great in one area and I seem to do well against guys like that."
I know I should be staying away from the Starnes debacle, but it is always interesting to hear what fellow fighters, and especially ones who were on the card, thought of the whole situation.
"You never really know what is going through a guys mind when he’s fighting, but at the same token, when you’re paid to perform – and that’s what we are, performers – go get knocked out…step in there, stick your jaw out, try to throw a punch …."
Clementi is a dangerous fighter who is solid in all aspects of the game. It is hard not to be in his corner for every one of his fights. His dedication to the sport and his short turnaround between his fights speaks to his character.
Of course, I was booing him in favor of the hometown Stout, but I was one of the overtly polite Canadians patting him on the back after his win.
Fighting in the deepest, arguably the toughest division in all of MMA -- let alone the UFC -- lends itself to a complicated mix of up-and-comers, journeymen and contenders.
Where does Clementi see himself in the mix?
Here’s a final snip:
"Do I think I’m ready for that, a title shot or whatever? – No. Do I feel like I’m slowly climbing that ladder and kicking people off it as I’m trying to come up? – Damn right I am."
To listen to the entire audio interview click here.
Sean McManus is the Director of Media Relations for MMACanada.net. For more information on the MMA scene up in Canada check out MMACanada.net.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Dextras - koshots.com