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‘Shredded’ David Rickels can’t wait to drop ‘Caveman-’like bombs on Guilherme Vasconcelos in Thackerville

David Rickels interview

Bellator 210: “Njokuani vs. Salter” takes place at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., this Friday night (Nov. 30, 2018), featuring a main event between Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani (18-5, 1 NC) — who returns from a one-year layoff — against Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace John Salter (15-4).

Explosive fights are something “The Caveman” David Rickels (19-5) knows well. He has finished 63 percent of his wins (12 of 19) via knockout or submission, and he loves to put on a show for all the fans who paid to see him. That’s the reason he remains a Bellator fan favorite year-after-year. That style will be put to the test “Bomba” Guilherme Vasconcelos (10-4). Vasconcelos didn’t get his dynamite nickname from being a demolitions expert. On the contrary, he has finished 100 percent of his wins, and just like Rickels, those finishes are split evenly down the middle between knockouts and submissions, making him dangerous everywhere the fight goes. recently spoke with Rickels about an intriguing Welterweight match-up with Vasconcelos, coming back from a devastating loss to Michael “Venom” Page and much more.

“I got burned with fire, man. {*laughing*} Ah shit. I got dropped in the first round and I was honestly just fucking loopy still. I don’t even remember being in my corner. When he cut me with that big shot that second time it actually kind of woke me up. And man I was just like, ‘I’m about to get the knocked the fuck out. I can’t see anything, so I need to figure out what the hell is going on.’ And what that (amounted to) was, ‘Let’s live to fight another day.’”

Hearing it put that way, few people can blame him for retiring in the second round, but Rickels also blames himself for not preparing for Page the right way.

“There were a lot of factors that people don’t really know about. I changed my training completely for that fight. I’m still experimenting in this game, man, and that’s part of the fucking problem. I cut out all of my sparring, I did light movement and stuff like that, but I cut out my sparring 100 percent and I can see where that was a big fuck up. When I got hit, instead of biting down on my mouthpiece and fucking going, I decided it was time to pack up and get the fuck out of there.”

That’s not to say that Rickels doesn’t respect the amazing striking Page does, but he does seem convinced that all the prep he did for “MVP” didn’t pan out.

“I come from a Muay Thai base and I worked a lot on trying to figure out (his) karate and this and that. I started off with some really good angles in the fight, but I just couldn’t close the distance. I think I worked a lot of the right things but hindsight is 20 fucking 20 and I wish I would have done things differently in training.”

After declaring himself “really embarrassed” by his fight at Bellator 200, Rickels is relishing this chance to go out and redeem himself against “Bomba” Vasconcelos this weekend.

“I’ve changed things up quite a bit, man. I’m finding the middle ground of like what I used to do, which was only fucking spar hard, and work technique to get better. I feel like the middle ground has been found and it feels good.”

“Caveman” is also happy to be returning to Thackerville, where he last had success defeating Adam Piccolotti at Bellator 189.

“Yup, yup! Oklahoma’s cool. It’s not as cool as Derby, Kansas, but I mean it is what it is. The crowd (in Mulvane) is a little more friendly there.”

Given his home in Derby is just six miles from the Kansas Star Casino where Rickels has had just over 25 percent (seven of 26) of all his professional fights, his bias is understandable; however, he’s ready to face Vasconcelos in Oklahoma.

“I did a Google search because I had never heard of him, and he dated Demi Lovato, and I watched some fights. I think he’s got better jiu-jitsu than he does striking for sure. I think that’ll probably be a factor at some point in the fight. I think he kind of uses the heavy pressure with the punches and everything well with his jiu-jitsu pressure. Yeah I’ve done a little research and we’ve been preparing accordingly.”

Vasconcelos did briefly have a high profile relationship with Lovato after she broke up with Luke Rockhold, but that ended even more quickly than the last one. A more interesting comparison than Vasconcelos and Rockhold is between “Bomba” and “Caveman” — both are six feet tall and only two inches in reach separates them.

“Really! {*laughing*} I wasn’t sure because I had seen that he had been fighting 85, so I was actually really interested to see like size how we stand beside each other. I’ve actually put on quite a bit of weight as well. That was one thing that I’ve been trying to do in between camps was put on a little bit more muscle.”

Rickels would naturally be bigger anyway now that he’s no longer making the grueling cut down to Lightweight.

“What’s gonna change? Shit, my health! Man, you know, one hundred percent, I made that move for my health. I did not feel healthy fighting at 55. I put my body through a lot of stress and my mind through a lot of stress just to get into the fight. I feel like 70 is a better fit. I mean I’m walking around at 180 right now and I’d like to walk around almost even a little bit bigger and that’s kind of my goal as I’m continuing at Welterweight. I’m walking around 80 with abs, like, I’m shredded right now you know what I mean?”

All of the elements are there to win — a healthier diet, an improved training camp, and a positive mental attitude. David Rickels now just needs to blend it all together on Friday night.

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Njokuani vs. Salter” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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