Despite an 11-2 record which Richie Whitson has acquired fighting in promotions in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia, he is still best known for a brief stint on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). The 26 year-old was extremely unfortunate to suffer an infection during TUF 9 and was unable to train properly before being beaten by eventual winner Ross Pearson.
Since that setback, Whitson has been on good form as he has fought all over the world and more often than not come away with the win. The UFC has yet to come calling but the long time Team Quest member has instead signed a multi-fight deal with ONE FC, courtesy of his manager Heath Sims.
Sims recently joined Evolve MMA to head the wrestling program there and his student and protege has been training with him in Singapore as he prepares to take on experienced Dutchman Danny Van Bergen at ONE FC 'Battle of Heroes' on March 31.
Whitson chatted to MMAmania.com about life after TUF and fighting for the first time in Asia.
How did the chance to fight for One FC come about?
One FC is a great organization and one that I had heard great things about so when my manager Heath Sims told me the he could possibly set up a fight for me in the One FC I was all for it.
There will be 7,000+ people in the Singapore Indoor Stadium and the show will be broadcast on ESPN Star Sports. Have you ever fought on an event on this scale before?
I have fought on some big shows before, but this may be the biggest. I'm very excited for my Asian MMA debut to be in such a big show.
Did you enjoy TUF and do you think it helped you to improve as a fighter?
TUF was a great experience. I definitely did not enjoy living in a house with 15 other men for 6 weeks, but other than that the experience was a good one. I learned a lot from it and got a lot of exposure which has helped my career as fighter.
Were you disappointed not to get a chance to fight on the TUF finale?
Yeah I was disappointed. I felt I had a very good fight to get into the house but then had some bad luck by getting impetigo which is a bacterial infection. That forced me out of any training up until I fought the eventual winner Ross Pearson. I figured knowing my story and how well I did the first fight I would get a shot in the finale, but it didn't turn out that way. In the end I'm just happy I got a shot to be on The Ultimate Fighter
Are you hoping to get back in the UFC one day?
Some day it would be nice to be back in the UFC, but for now I’m extremely happy to be fighting for One FC. I think Asian MMA is going to blow up with One FC and I’m happy to be here when it does.
Do you have a multi-fight deal with One FC or is this just a one off?
I do. I believe it’s a five fight contract?
You have spent a few weeks at Evolve MMA with Heath Sims, how have you found that experience?
It's been a very good experience. The trainers and fighter here are great and Singapore is a awesome city.
What are your thoughts on your opponent Danny van Bergen?
I think he is a tough opponent, but I think I'm better than him everywhere.
Does knowing that so many people in Asia are going to be watching put more pressure on you or do you feel more relaxed because you are fighting away from the US?
No I don't feel more pressure. I'm from a small town called Sitka, Alaska and a lot of people in that town follow my career. I always feel the most pressure knowing that all my friends and family from Sitka are watching. I know it’s important to impress the Asian fans, but no I don't feel more pressure
How do you feel about being the first fight of the night, are you hoping to get to watch the rest of the show?
This is actually the first time in my whole career that I'm the first fight of the night. I think after this fight they will definitely have me higher up on the card, but it will be cool to get the fight done and be able to have a few beers and watch the rest of the fights.