david-rickels-2.jpgDavid Rickels thinks he probably was at a buffet eating lo mein and crab rangoon when he got the call to fight lightweight champ Michael Chandler at Bellator 97. He knows he was 205 pounds.

Rickels isn’t big on living in the past or the future, but the present of that moment sticks in his memory.

“Initial shock factor was about a nine,” he told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio).

A winner in Bellator’s Season 8 lightweight tournament, Rickels (14-1 MMA, 8-1 BFC) stepped in for an injured Dave Jansen to meet Chandler (11-0 MMA, 8-0 BFC) on July 31 at Santa Ana Star Center in New Mexico. The title fight headlines the event’s main card on Spike following prelims on Spike.com.

Rickel’s shock wasn’t just that he would have to cut 50 pounds in a little more than a month to qualify for the bout, although that certainly wasn’t a pleasant thought. It was that he finally got the opportunity he’d been building for since staring MMA on a whim.

The 24-year-old lightweight, whose nickname is “Caveman,” is something of a goof when you talk to him, but he’s also serious about goals. When he started training, he made one to fight. Then he started fighting, and he made another to go pro. Then he went pro, and he targeted a contract with a major promotion.

Other than that, he’s kind of flying by the seat of his pants, which perhaps explains his binge on Asian cuisine and his joking manner.

“He’s got a pretty haircut; he slicks it over,” Rickels said when asked about Chandler. “He’s got a Dave and Buster’s sponsor. I would like some coins. I think that’s something where I could beat him up and maybe get some coins for Dave and Buster’s, so I can go to Kansas City and play some games. Because that’s what I’m all about.”

Whether his outlook translates into success against one of Bellator’s most successful and dominant fighters is something he’ll find out soon enough.

“I don’t look too far into the future,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. I guess 50 years from now, I’ll tell you if I had a good strategy. But I look at what’s next, and what’s right in front of me is a huge opportunity to take on Michael Chandler, to potentially end his streak, his onslaught, his massacre of the lightweight division, and I feel pretty good about myself.”

Rickels said he’s “probably the farthest thing from a grownup,” and doesn’t ever want to be one. Yet his life keeps marching toward adulthood. In training camp for Chandler, he found out that his longtime girlfriend was pregnant. He recently started looking for houses after socking away enough cash for a down payment. And he moved, temporarily, to the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., where some of the most serious mixed martial artists on the planet train.

“I thought I’d spend all my money on booze and vacations, but I’m doing the responsible thing,” Rickels said. “I’m evolving.”

It’s something a “Caveman” should do, after all, however surprising it might be. And if he wins the title, things are bound to get even more serious. Already he’s noticed a different in the money he’s going to make from sponsors, having doubled the $2,000 he usually makes for fights. And he’s bound to get more backing from Bellator, which actively promotes its champions through appearances at events like this week’s Comic Con.

But he’s not thinking too much about that part of things right now. It’s time to focus on beating Chandler, who remains undefeated after 11 fights and recently defended his title with a second-round submission of former Olympic judo player Rick Hawn.

“Now, my goal is to take a championship,” Rickels said. “I like to push myself. More than just the money, (it’s) proving to myself (that) all these hard work and hours. It would mean a lot to me emotionally to pull off this type of victory (and) put myself on the stage I believe I belong as far as skill and talent goes.”

He’s rubbed shoulders with men on that type of stage at AKA, where fighters such as Josh Thomson, Jon Fitch and Tyson Griffin reside, so he can see what his future could look like. If he’s looking, which he’s not.

“Definitely, I feel like this is one of the biggest fights of my life,” Rickels said. “I’m just a little barbarian trying to slay a dragon.”

For the latest on Bellator 97, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.

view original article >>

Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Injury to Linton Vassell Causes Bellator 158 Main Card Shift

  • 25 days ago
  • 11 views

An injury to Linton Vassell has derailed his summer plans of competing in front of his fellow Englishmen against Francis Carmont at Bellator 158: London. read news >>

VIDEO: Claudia Gadelha Thinks Joanna Jedrzejczyk Dreams Too Much

  • 25 days ago
  • 4 views

Claudia Gadelha thinks Joanna Jedrzejczyk is dreaming too much about becoming a two-division champion ahead of their Friday night headlining bout. read news >>

Ferguson more focused than ever for UFC newcomer

  • 18 days ago
  • 7 views

If UFC newcomer Lando Vannata thinks he’s going to play Clubber Lang to Ferguson’s Rocky Balboa tonight in Sioux Falls, think again, because with a seven-fight win streak, a No. 3 ranking and everyth read news >>

James Gallagher Predicts a Finish of Mike Cutting at Bellator 158

  • 17 days ago
  • 7 views

James Gallagher predicts that he'll finish Mike Cutting in their Bellator MMA 158 featherweight bout on July 16 at O2 Arena in London. read news >>

Michael Page Looking To ‘Leave a Mark’ at Bellator 158 in London

  • 17 days ago
  • 28 views

Undefeated Bellator MMA welterweight contender Michael "Venom" Page puts his unbeaten streak on the line at Bellator 158 against Evangelista Santos in London. read news >>

Bellator 158: Daley vs. Lima Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More

  • 16 days ago
  • 32 views

Bellator MMA takes London on Saturday from The O2 Arena. A crucial welterweight bout tops the Bellator 158 card as Paul Daley takes on Douglas Lima. The 170-pound division will again be on the displa read news >>

Bellator 158: Daley vs. Lima Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More

  • 16 days ago
  • 18 views

Bellator MMA takes London on Saturday from The O2 Arena. A crucial welterweight bout tops the Bellator 158 card as Paul Daley takes on Douglas Lima. The 170-pound division will again be on the displa read news >>

Paul Daley on Bellator 158 Douglas Lima Bout: ‘I Have to Knock Him Out’

  • 16 days ago
  • 12 views

Paul "Semtex" Daley faces Douglas Lima in the Bellator 158 main event at the O2 Arena on London on July 16 an plans to score a knockout. read news >>

WSOF Signs UFC and Bellator Veteran Paul Bradley

  • 16 days ago
  • 6 views

World Series of Fighting announced on Thursday that it has signed UFC and Bellator veteran Paul Bradley. read news >>

Bellator 158: London Weigh-in Results and Video

  • 15 days ago
  • 105 views

The official weigh-ins for “Bellator 158: London” took place on Friday in front of a packed house at the Café de Paris in Leicester Square. read news >>