It was a win that Rick Story absolutely had to have, and he got it with authority.
Story (15-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC) on Saturday stopped Strikeforce import Quinn Mulhern (18-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) with a first-round TKO on the UFC 158 prelims at Bell Centre in Montreal.
It was Story’s first stoppage win since August 2010. But more importantly, it was the difference between having wins in two of his past three fights and having losses in four of his past five – the latter scenario almost certainly being reason for a pink slip from the UFC these days.
“Especially after they just cut Jon Fitch after losing to (Demian) Maia, I was pretty fortunate to have a fight already booked, I think, since they’ve got another 100 that they want to cut,” Story told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio).
Story had been coming off his own loss to Maia at UFC 153 in October, a first-round submission setback. So on Saturday, he came out with a particular level of urgency.
It was the kind of urgency from a fighter who knows he has more in him than what he’d been showing lately. Story started his UFC career 6-1 with six straight wins – including wins over Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves. But then came losses to Charlie Brenneman, Martin Kampmann and Maia in a four-fight stretch.
“It definitely was a motivational factor – I’m fighting for my job,” Story said. “I didn’t want to lose a spot on the roster and have to go to a different promotion and work my way back in there. It’s more frustrating than anything because I’ve been up there pretty close to title contention, and then kind of go through ups and downs and get bumped back down and have to work myself back up. I think I learned some lessons and I’m ready to move forward now.”
Story said his Saturday dominance over Mulhern was, in a way, getting back to the Story of old. Despite being backed into the corner and believing he was fighting for his job, he managed to keep calm and under composure.
“What I did Saturday night is the way I want to always fight,” he said. “Sometimes, I get a little too excited, I think, and it messes me up. So this time I was more relaxed and I was able to unload like I wanted to.”
Now Story is ready to start climbing the ranks again, he said. And there’s a fight with a fellow UFC 158 welterweight winner he wouldn’t mind having again.
Story beat Jake Ellenberger nearly five years ago in Portland under the SportFight banner. Now Ellenberger is right there at the top of the UFC’s welterweight food chain. Ellenberger certainly might not complain about a chance to get a loss back from Story. And Story wouldn’t object to a chance to knock off a top contender.
“After Ellenberger’s performance, I want to fight him again,” he said. “I want to be where he’s at. He’s performing, but I beat him before and I just want to go up against him again and see where he’s at. After our first fight, there was a little bit of drama when he pushed me when we were standing next to the ref and he flipped me off, and I pointed up to my hand being raised. But besides that, I don’t have any personal feelings toward him. He’s just in a spot that I want, and if I need to beat his ass to get into a title contention spot, I want to do that.”
Story said he hasn’t yet asked the UFC brass for a shot at Ellenberger. But consider it a callout at this point.
For complete coverage of UFC 158, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
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