Bellator a ‘Final Calling’ for Ex-UFC Champion Rodriguez


  • Share on Tumblr
  • submit to reddit

Ricco Rodriguez will return to the Mohegan Sun, where he won the UFC heavyweight title. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood


HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Ricco Rodriguez struggled to find work with prominent mixed martial arts organizations for a number of years, until he signed with Bellator Fighting Championships in February.

Rodriguez (47-11) will meet Seth Petruzelli at Bellator 48 on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., site of the most significant victory of his career -- his September 2002 triumph over Randy Couture, which netted him the UFC heavyweight crown. Rodriguez believes he has found a place where he can finish out his career while competing against some of the top heavyweights in the world.

“Taking this opportunity to fight with Bellator is really my final calling,” he told Sherdog.com. “I don’t plan on going anywhere else. I plan to compete in the heavyweight tournament, see how I match up with the heavyweights, really push myself to be a champion and finish my career here.”

While searching for a new professional home, Rodriguez grew tired of the unprofessional methods utilized by certain smaller promotions with which he had dealt. He has not competed in back-to-back bouts within the same promotion in more than three years, as he bounced from one regional stage to the next.

“When you’re working for a smaller organization, you’re almost taking a chance in a circus act,” Rodriguez said. “It is awesome to work for an organization that treats you with class and respect.”

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney was admittedly hesitant to sign the heavyweight, who has had issues with substance abuse in the past. Historically, Bellator has not gone out of its way to sign UFC washouts and former champions, and Rodriguez was no exception.

“A lot of people don’t understand the politics,” Rodriguez said. “Bellator is looking for their own champions. They aren’t looking for former champions. They are not the company that’s taking the leftovers from the UFC and making them their champions. They are producing guys that are in the Top 10 rankings.”

Rodriguez believes Bellator provides a unique platform through which to showcase his talents. The opportunity to compete on national television via MTV2 intrigues the 33-year-old, along with the way Bellator raises and grooms its own fighters.

“They have a different formula. They are coming at their demographics in a totally different way, and they are finding their own athletes,” Rodriguez said. “Look at [Bellator welterweight champion and 2008 Olympian] Ben Askren; you think that these guys couldn’t compete in the UFC? I’m happy with Bellator. I believe they care more about the fighters.”

On a 12-fight winning streak, the longest such streak of his career, Rodriguez will lock horns with Petruzelli in his promotional debut. He has designs on competing in the next Bellator heavyweight tournament, a victory in which would lead to a crack at champion Cole Konrad.

“I’ve been wanting to fight better opponents,” Rodriguez said. “Seth is very unorthodox, and he’s very elusive. He is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Everybody thinks I should win, but a fight is a fight. Anyone can get knocked out at any time. It’s just a great opportunity to come back to [the] Mohegan Sun, where I won my UFC heavyweight title, and show people I belong in Bellator.”

view original article >>

Related News

  • 13 days ago
  • 46 views

Like much of the mixed martial arts community, Will Brooks is intrigued by the possibilities of the new Bellator regime. more

  • 12 days ago
  • 69 views

The worldwide leader for mixed martial arts and UFC news, MMA News, UFC Rumors, MMA Rankings, Interviews, Videos, UFC Results, and UFC Blog more

  • 7 days ago
  • 8 views

The worldwide leader for mixed martial arts and UFC news, MMA News, UFC Rumors, MMA Rankings, Interviews, Videos, UFC Results, and UFC Blog more

  • 6 days ago
  • 142 views

The worldwide leader for mixed martial arts and UFC news, MMA News, UFC Rumors, MMA Rankings, Interviews, Videos, UFC Results, and UFC Blog more

  • 5 days ago
  • 31 views

The worldwide leader for mixed martial arts and UFC news, MMA News, UFC Rumors, MMA Rankings, Interviews, Videos, UFC Results, and UFC Blog more

  • 2 days ago
  • 7 views

Bellator MMA has added Japanese mixed martial arts veteran Hideo Tokoro to its roster, Sherdog.com has learned from a source close to the negotiations. more

  • a day ago
  • 17 views

The worldwide leader for mixed martial arts and UFC news, MMA News, UFC Rumors, MMA Rankings, Interviews, Videos, UFC Results, and UFC Blog more

  • 29 days ago
  • 48 views

MMAmania.com resident fighter analyst Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of UFC 175 headliner Lyoto Machida, who looks to become the third two-division champion this Saturday night (July 5, 2014) inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida, looks to snatch the title from new middleweight kingpin, Chris Weidman, this Saturday night (July 5, 2014) inside the Mandalay B more

  • 29 days ago
  • 160 views

Mixed martial arts is a sport filled with uncertainties and few are more familiar with this reality than Stefan Struve.
Five years ago, the rangy Dutchmen came to the UFC and quickly established himself as a fighter of potential and promise in the heavyweight ranks—a division in desperate need of young talent. While there were setbacks along the way, "The Skyscraper" proved there was legitimacy behind the expectation, as he bounced back strong time and time again.
It didn't take long for Struve more