The words "fan favorite" are often thrown around liberally in mixed martial arts (MMA), usually to describe a fighter who either hails from the town or the state where a live event is taking place. It's generally true that the "hometown" man gets a good pop from the crowd.
For David Rickels, however, there's a unique showmanship and personality that attracts attention no matter where "Caveman" fights. He'll swing a club, he'll have a dinosaur follow him to the ring, and his entrance music fits both aspects to a tee.
Put a camera on him before or after a fight and no matter the outcome he'll entertain the crowd.
The charismatic Rickels will get a winning combination at Bellator 139 this weekend (June 26, 2015) at Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kansas: An already-popular fighter, fighting in his home state and on the televised Spike TV main card against John Alessio.
And if he defeats Alessio, it will give Rickels three wins in his last four fights in a stacked Lightweight division.
Rickels recently spoke with MMAmania.com today about fighting in the co-main event this Friday night, where he gets his unique and bombastic personality from, and what improvements he has made since winning his last fight with Davi Ramos.
Check it out:
"Preparation is going EXCELLENT man, I could not ask for a better camp. One of the smartest things I've ever done in my career, post Patricky loss, was decide that I'm not gonna be a fatass between camps any more. I'm not going to balloon up to 210 pounds, and I'm not going to leave the gym, so I've been in the gym since the Davi Ramos fight."
Unfortunately, not everyone got to see that fight because of it being a swing bout after the main card on Spike TV, but Rickels isn't fazed by it since the win earned him the fight with Alessio in the co-main event against Cheick Kongo vs. Alexander Volkov.
"You better watch June 26 because this is the beginning of a new "Caveman," an evolved 'Caveman' per se! I'm starting to believe in myself, I'm starting to really enjoy training, I'm starting to understand that this is the best God damn job that I will ever have. I'd better take advantage of it while I'm here. I've got John Alessio in front of me, and I don't want that to be the guy to stop me."
Alessio has been in almost every organization you can think of in a career that spans back to 1998; however, one fact stands out among many for being exactly identical to Rickels: Both men have only been knocked out twice in their entire careers.
"Man I think there's a bigger slobberknocker aspect (to this fight). He's very hard to finish (but) I believe the right David in front of you is a God damn animal. I'm a primed animal right now. I'm feeling very neanderthal, and I'm in kill mode, he's in front of me, and I just don't think he's the guy that puts me away. Being knocked out is not a fear for me."
Now that Rickels is, by his own account, taking his training and fight preparation more seriously, he's also setting the bar higher for what he wants to achieve in Bellator. And believes a rematch with Michael Chandler will help him reach it.
"I'm going to definitively beat John Alessio. Conveniently one week before that Michael Chandler fights in St. Louis. I've already got this all played out in my evil plan, which is to take over the Bellator world. Michael Chandler's gonna win in definitive fashion, I'm gonna win in definitive fashion, and guess what? We're gonna meet three, four, five months later. I'm going to redeem my loss, and skyrocket myself right into title position."
In the meantime, Rickels will keep doing what he does best ... entertaining fight fans.
"Electronic dinosaurs are fucking expensive! I spent two grand, out of my hard earned tournament money, just to have that guy there. I flew him in! I flew a dinosaur in to the arena, in a crate. A dinosaur traveled ten thousand miles or so just for my fight, which is awesome. That's the best part about it. That's how you know I'm doing something I love. I'll drop two grand in a heartbeat, if I think it's really going to be enjoyable, fun, that sort of thing."
Rickels is an entertainer, but the bottom line behind the "Caveman" persona is that he wants to the best both inside and outside of the Bellator cage.
"I think I'm getting back to being a much better complete fighter, and I just want to sell that to everybody man. I think that David Rickels on the right night beats anybody in the world."
Tune in to Spike TV this Friday night to watch the new "Caveman" in action and go for the win against Alessio in an attempt to both prove his point and bring his "evil plan" to fruition.
In the meantime, check out the full audio of our interview with Rickels below and keep it glued to MMAmania.com all weekend ling for the latest and greatest Bellator 139 news, notes and results.