David Rickels is one of Bellator's brightest young personalities.
Nicknamed "The Caveman" for his crazy aggressive fighting style, he's capable of finishing a fight with his fists and on the ground. He stopped his first three Bellator opponents off his back and then showcased his hands in his tournament debut, starching Jordan Smith in just 22 seconds.
Personality-wise? Look no further than the giant club he sported at today's Bellator 82 weigh-ins.
Rickels would lose a very close and controversial decision in the Bellator season six welterweight semifinals to eventual tournament winner Karl Amoussou and he decided it was time to actually cut weight for once. He'll be dropping down to 160 pounds for tomorrow night's (Nov. 30, 2012) Bellator 82 main card fight against undefeated prospect Jason Fischer.
"The Caveman" spoke with MMAmania.com during an appearance on The Verbal Submission about dropping down a weight class, kicking a police officer in the balls and where his finishing mentality comes from in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You fought in the last welterweight tournament and you're taking this bout at a 160 pound catchweight. Is that because you're working your way down to 155?
David Rickels: You're exactly right. Basically man what's going on is making the transition down. I'm trying to do it in a safer way. I've never made the transition before so going down to 160 this time and the plan is to get in that 155 pound tournament.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're a guy that loves his food. I think there's no other fighter that talks about his love for food and drink more than you. How has it been getting these extra 10 pounds off? Has it been rough during training camp or are you focusing more on going all out during the weigh cut?
David Rickels: Seriously, I'm surprised at how easily the weight has been coming off. All my fights at 170, I walked around at 170 pounds before the fight. I never cut any water weight so I knew it would be easy to make 170. I'm got down to 167 during training camp for this fight and seven pounds is easy so I know the cut to 155 will be easy too. I'm still eating really good, I'm just eating clean which is a big difference from my normal crab rangoons and whatnot.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk a little bit about yourself and your accomplishments so far. You've had some awesome fights in the Bellator cage. No one is going to forget that 22 second knockout in your tournament debut Jordan Smith. Does that fact that Smith almost went out and beat Andrey Koreshkov, a finalist of the current tournament, pump you up a little bit, knowing how far he pushed one Bellator's most highly touted prospects?
David Rickels: Oh yeah for sure. I knew going into that fight and even after the fight that that guy was super talented. If we were going to fight 10 times, there was going to be a war in most of those fights and in some he might have come out the victor. I put my hands on his chin and I've got pretty decent power and it was lights out from there. I don't have Johny Hendricks KO power but I hit hard.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now that you're working your way down to lightweight, what have you thought of the lightweight field for Bellator, especially this season?
David Rickels: I've been really impressed, especially with that Marcin Held guy. He's kinda scary, just rolling around on legs. That's something you'd have to specifically train for. There's some guys who are just out there and there's definitely some really hard fights but the way I look at fights is I'm hard to finish. This next opponent of mine is a finisher and I don't see him finishing me. I think he's going to get finished on the 30th. I'm a hard fight for anyone. I like to think I'm good off my back and I'm good standing. Anywhere the fight goes we can make it trouble.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You talk about your opponent being a finisher, I think that's even his nickname. He's 4-0 and a pretty solid lightweight prospect with two wins already under the Bellator banner. What are your thoughts on Jason Fischer?
David Rickels: Oh yeah, I haven't seen any of his fights but I read up on him a little bit. He's "The Finisher" quote un-quote. I am a finisher too. This makes for a great, exciting match-up and what was cool is I didn't even have to take this fight. I had some other stuff planned and they asked me to take this fight. They said, "Do you want to fight a 4-0 guy? He's gonna be hungry." I said, "Yes!" I want to go out there and get this catchweight fight at 160 and show people I deserve to be in that 155 pound bracket.
Ben Thapa: Looking back at the last Karl Amoussou fight, do you wish you'd have kicked him in the balls a little bit more in retrospect?
David Rickels: I kicked a cop in the balls. How many people get to say that?
Ben Thapa: What was the experience like for you, considering how close that fight was and probably feeling you had done enough to win the fight but not getting the decision?
David Rickels: Well if you rewatch the decision, I'm jumping around ecstatic and happy about my performance. He's looking all sad like he's lost his dog or something. They made the decision and I threw my $300 mouthpiece into the crowd and my water bottle on the ground. I was not very happy. I know that I kicked his ass and afterwards, a couple beers and shots later, I felt a bit better. It still hurts to this day but it was really cool to get into that tournament and do well and knowing that I should have been in that finals. I could have fought Baker and I think I could have beat Baker. I should be facing Askren, but that's all "if" and I'm onto the next thing now. I have to get my 11-1 now so I'm moving on.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've got a style of fighting that the fans really appreciate. You're crazy aggressive either on the feet or on the ground with submissions. Where does that come from? Is that just your style of fighting or is that something you train all the time?
David Rickels: That is actually supremely natural. I've always been a "get after it" kind of person. When I first joined the gym, that's how I got my nickname "The Caveman." I got my ass whooped but I just went after all the dudes. All the pros, everybody. I went after them. I was sparring with the pros a month into my training and I've kept that with me and I'm happy I kept that with me because it got me to 10-1. I'm skilled enough to win fights and I also win them in entertaining fashion.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Are you expecting this fight to be two guys trying to tear each other's heads off considering you're both always looking for the finish?
David Rickels: Yes. I'll tell you for a couple reasons. A: this guy has the nickname "The Finisher" so I'm sure he has a little bit of pressure on him. He's also 4-0. He's hungry. That's something I don't look past. I never look past fighters. I want to say I'm in better shape than I was when I fought Karl Amoussou. I'm running a lot more, eating healthier and doing three-a-days. I'm in great shape, I'm gonna be pushing this fight all 15 minutes and I expect him to do the same.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How would you like this fight to finish if everything goes perfect according to your plans?
David Rickels: Ideally a knockout. Some fashion of knockout but a finish is a finish and a win is a win. If I go to a decision, I promise you I'll be trying to finish all 15 minutes. A great example of that was the Condit fight. He never gave up against St. Pierre and you can expect me to have the same mentality.