XFC featherweight Jason “The Ronin” Hicks admits that in his last fight in February, he knew what his opponent was going to do to him and he was still unable to stop it.
“Going into the fight, we knew Scott (Holtzman) was a big, strong guy who was pretty athletic,” said Hicks. “We pretty much predicted what his game plan was going to be, which was to take me down, hold me, and definitely use his strength and wrestling base against me, and it ended up working.”
The fight resulted in Hicks’ first loss and facilitated changes in his training.
“I’ve brought in a strength coach to help keep me lined up strength-wise,” said Hicks. “Before I would do strength training, but it wasn’t a priority, I was always more a traditional martial artist.
“I had to make some mental adjustments also, which was trying to find that fire again and just want to go in there and fight and not worry about being taken down or points; just go in there and fight and try to knock guys out.”
Another change Hicks (5-1) has made is moving down to 145 pounds. It’s a move he feels has been a long time coming.
“Going down to 145 pounds was always where I needed to be, but the XFC was offering things at 155 pounds, like a title shot, and the weight cut was easy, so I fought at that weight,” he said.
Hicks’ 145-pound debut for XFC will be on Friday, Oct. 18, in Nashville, Tenn., as he takes on Deivison “Dragon” Ribeiro (23-9) in a feature bout.
“I’ve got to go in there, get in the pocket and let my hands go,” said Hicks of his bout with Ribeiro. “This is a guy who will fight me, he’ll throw down, so I think it’s a good stylistic match-up for me, the fans and the XFC.
“I’ve got to go in there and just be faster and hit harder. Not to get too complicated with it, we match-up well with each other and it’s going to be an awesome show.”
While he is vastly less experienced than his opponent, Hicks told MMAWeekly.com that he doesn’t feel the number of fights Ribeiro has had will matter on Oct. 18.
“Of course having experience is an advantage; having that comfort and less anxiety; but I don’t think it’s a proven formula that if you have more fights, you’re going to perform better,” said Hicks. “At least to me, it doesn’t bother me. I think about myself, my training and my talent and that number (of fights my opponent has) doesn’t matter.”
Should the changes Hicks made to his game prove fruitful and he gets back on the winning track, his next goal is simple, become the XFC 145-pound champion.
“I’m definitely not looking past Dragon, but the main thing is to get the 145-pound title and get my name out there more,” said Hicks. “I want to show exactly what I can do. I’ve had a chance to show some of what I can do, but I can show a lot more.”