Rick Story: Thiago Alves was the stepping stone to call out Jon Fitch

Rick Story

Rick Story is going places in the welterweight division, but it wasn't always easy.

In fact, after listening to the tale of his athletic career, he should consider changing his nickname to "The Comeback" Story.

As a collegiate wrestler, he went winless (0-17) in his freshman year, but rebounded to be nationally-ranked by the time his senior season rolled around. After transitioning to MMA, he traveled down a similar path, going 1-2 in his first three fights before rebounding to win six straight and earning a UFC berth.

Even his Octagon debut was rough, dropping a decision to John Hathaway at UFC 99 in Germany. However, once again, "The Horror" would bounce back again to win six straight inside the Octagon, including the biggest win of his career, a unanimous decision over former number one contender, Thiago Alves, in his most recent fight at UFC 130.

Story celebrated his victory by being a guest on Pro MMA Radio this week, during which he talked about his origins in MMA, his recent victory over Alves and his future goals in the sport.

Hear is his story:

Pro MMA Radio: You reeled off five straight victories and then you and your coach Pat White asked specifically for Thiago Alves. What told you guys that this was the right opponent for you especially after Alves finally got his weight issues under control and looked really good against John Howard?

Rick Story: It was mainly his past performances against strong wrestlers like St. Pierre and Fitch. He tends to fade when the pressure's being put on him and he's getting ground out on the ground. I planned on constantly having a high pace and a high pressure fight against him. We had figured that with my style and how he performs against other strong wrestlers, I would match up perfect.

Pro MMA Radio: You guys ended up being right and wrong because you dominated the first two rounds of the fight and I thought you outstruck him as well and that was probably the storyline for me. But in the third round, when you expected to take greater advantage of him, he actually came back and had a good round.Were you ever in trouble? A lot of people talked about the knee, but I went back and watched the fight again and it was a good knee, but it didn't look to me like it damaged you or slowed you down.

Rick Story: The knee didn't do anything. It didn't phase me. It put my teeth through my mouthpiece, but it didn't rock me. I haven't seen the fight. I have to go back. I have glimpses of the fight, but I can't specifically remember. I remember after he hit me with the knee, I changed elevation to get lower under his hips to be able to clinch under his knees and take him down. Some people might have taken that as me getting rocked and then dropped.

Pro MMA Radio: Did you feel him break at any point in the fight? Did you feel like you were wearing him down?

Rick Story: There was a point in the second round where I hit him with one shot and I saw him blink and he seemed a little discouraged, but then the round ended. He came out strong in the third and I give him credit. He came into that fight in really good shape.

Pro MMA Radio: One thing that was interesting to me is when we saw Thiago against John Howard, that was basically a striking battle. He was on his toes bouncing up and down fresh as could be for the whole 15 minutes. Your fight brings a point to me that there's a big difference between wrestling cardio and striking cardio because we didn't see that Thiago. As much as he came out in the third, those first two rounds it looked like you were wearing him down. Can you talk about the difference that imposing your will as a wrestler on somebody has on their cardio versus their striking because not only did we see it in your fight but we saw it in the Mir/Nelson fight as well. 

Rick Story: Any time you go in against a striker, strikers tend to practice more striking. It's second nature when you get really good at your art or craft, you can use your energy efficiently, economy of motion. With me being able to wrestle with him and take him out of his comfort zone, he's not being used to the positions I'm putting him in and he has to strain and exert more energy than he would have to incur if he were just striking. In his fight with John Howard, John Howard didn't push the pace that much and Thiago was able to sit back and throw strikes and control the pace. In that regard, that let him control the tempo, control all the striking combinations that he wanted to throw and dictate the pace of the fight. I went in there and wrestled and I was dictating the pace and he didn't know when he was going to have an opportunity to land his combinations.

Pro MMA Radio: Looking forward you said that when you and Pat talked about it, you thought the next opponent for you was Jon Fitch. When did you guys have that conversation? Was it after the fight or was this something you guys had talked about before Thiago?

Rick Story: It was actually something we had talked about before the (Johny) Hendricks fight. Even in talks of it going into the Hazelett fight. "After Hazelett we'll have 'this level' opponent to go against and then 'this level' and then we'll call out a Jon Fitch type." Well, we get the wins and it's happening. 

Pro MMA Radio: What do you see in Fitch that tells you that you can beat him?

Rick Story: There isn't really too much specifically that I can point out. Overall, he's freakin nails, but at this point I don't have an option. If I'm gonna go for that title, I'm gonna have to fight him anyway. I have confidence in all my abilities. I believe my stand up is better than his if I leave it standing and I'll just leave it at that. I'm not really sure about wrestling, he's really good at it. He's good at jiu-jitsu and he uses his wrestling for his jiu-jitsu and I'm excited to see that in the cage.

Pro MMA Radio: What's your view of Georges St. Pierre because in the past two years, the general consensus is that he's not really going for the finish, not going for broke. He's dominating everybody, but he's not really fighting like the way he used to fight. When you look at him, break down Georges for me. What do you see in St. Pierre's fighting style.

Rick Story: I kind of agree. I'm with everyone else on it. He's in a position where he can hold on to his title and make people go to his game and try to make everybody play his game because he's the champion. He's got the target on him and he has to be the one that has to be the one who gets beat. He gets to dictate how he wants to fight and regardless, he's always going to have fights lined up because he's holding the title. If I get the opportunity to fight him, he'll definitely be in a fight.

So what do you think Maniacs?

Is Story just one fight away from a title shot? If so, who would you throw him against? Rumors are swirling.

For more on Rick Story, check out the replay of MMAmania.com's exclusive presentation of Pro MMA Radio by clicking here.

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