Stay on target: Interview with Bellator season eight featherweight Mike Richman (Part one)

Photo via Bellator

MMAmania's Brian Hemminger speaks with Bellator season eight featherweight tournament fighter Mike Richman about recovering from a knockout loss, remaining cautiously aggressive and

Mike Richman knows exactly how it feels to see the hype train derail.

He's experienced it firsthand.

"The Marine" was a favorite to win the Bellator season seven featherweight tournament especially after his brutal 23 second head kick finish of Jeremy Spoon in the quarterfinals, but everything came crashing down after he was too aggressive in the semifinals against Russian striker Shahbulat Shamhalaev and found himself on the losing end of a first round knockout.

Now, just a couple months after the defeat, he's back and ready to get on the horse again with the Bellator season eight featherweight tournament, which begins Thursday night (Feb. 5, 2013) from Duluth, Georgia.

Richman opened up during a guest appearance on Bloody Elbow Radio recovering from a knockout loss, remaining cautiously aggressive and wanting a rematch against Shamhalaev in this interview.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You fought in the season seven featherweight tournament and now you're back for the season eight tourney. That's a pretty quick turnaround. Was there any hesitation at all or did you just want to jump right back into the thick of it?

Mike Richman: No, there was no hesitation. I wanted to get right back in the mix. I wanted to get in there and erase that last loss. I guess the timing, timing-wise from when that last fight was and when this tournament was gonna start, for me, I guess it all just worked out in my favor.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's start with the last tournament. You had the amazing knockout of Jeremy Spoon and then the tough knockout loss to Shamhalaev. Did you take anything from that? It had to be pretty disheartening considering you're such a ferocious striker.

Mike Richman: It was definitely a frustrating loss. What I could take away from it is to be a little bit more patient. Don't be too aggressive always looking for the highlight reel finish which is hard to say. I want to go out there and put on spectacular fights and I want to finish people in that kind of manner.

Just be more calm, be more aware and don't rush into someone else's gameplan. He was a very effective counter striker. He never initiated any of the action and he was just looking to counter with that looping overhand and he had good 1-2 punch handspeed and he caught me square. I threw a pretty lazy body shot and I should have taken a sidestep out and he capitalized with that counter and got me square in the eye. I thought he got me in the eyeball and I guess the rest is, I went down, he followed with strikes and I tried to continue but they stopped it. It is what it is.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You say you want to tone it back a little bit, but how do you balance being calm and scaling it back a little bit but still keeping that level of aggressiveness that you need to perform because you're still a guy that is always going after the knockout?

Mike Richman: That's a great question and it's definitely a very fine line to where, how do you still maintain that type of aggressive attack and not remain too overly aggressive? I guess it's an oxymoron but you have to pick your shots better. I should have been more aware of the fact that he wanted to be a pure counter striker. I should have went in for the takedown and could have grinded him against the cage and maybe tired him out a bit so his hand speed would come down a little bit and then move in closer to range and make it up that way. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not going to be hesitant, I'm not going to be gunshy. I'm still going to go in there and try to knock dudes out.

Matt Bishop: Finding that balance, is that something you can get through training or is that something you have to get through actual fight experience?

Mike Richman: I think that's something you have to figure out during the actual fight itself. The fight itself is so much more different because you have a lot of similarities with pushing yourself both physically and mentally in the training aspect. Some people are going to be just phenomenal in the gym but the fact remains that you still have to advance under the lights and you have to see results and visualize someone trying to take your head off. That's something you have to gain in live fights instead of just training.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The finals of the season seven featherweight tournament got delayed and will be taking place in a couple weeks. Who do you like between Martinez and Shamhalaev?

Mike Richman: Oh man, dude. That's a tough one. I really like Rad Martinez personally as a guy. He's so nice and humble and he's got great wrestling abilities. He's got a pretty solid shot and I think we haven't really seen Shahbulat on the ground, similar to what they've said about me. Maybe Rad Martinez can tire him out and grind him out or, you know, Shammalav is gonna counter and look for a TKO win or maybe just win it standing for three rounds and win a decision that way. It's tough. From my perspective, I would want Shamhalaev to win because you always want to see the people who beat you be successful because I want that rematch and it would be sweet for him to win the tournament, win the title and I can rematch him for the belt.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So which would you rather have? Would you rather earn a fight against the current champ Pat Curran, or would you rather get a rematch against Shahbulat Shamhalaev regardless of whether if it's for a title or not?

Mike Richman: I want the win back against Shamhalaev, definitely.

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