Aaron Riley has never won back-to-back fights in the UFC. |
Photo: Dave Mandel
Well-traveled lightweight Aaron Riley
takes on “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 winner Tony
Ferguson on the UFC
135 “Jones vs. Rampage” undercard this Saturday in Denver in a
classic matchup of up-and-coming prospect versus battle-tested
By the time Ferguson made his professional mixed martial arts debut
in April 2008, Riley already had 36 fights under his belt,
including bouts against
Bellator Fighting Championships 155-pound titleholder Eddie
Fisher, Chris Lytle,
Lawler and Yves Edwards.
However, Riley has no intention of serving as a stepping stone for
“I’ve watched some tape [of Ferguson],” Riley told Sherdog.com.
“He’s got grappling skills, but seems to prefer standing up and has
some unorthodox striking skills. He is a tough guy, but I’ve
studied the tape and we’ve got a game plan. I just have to attack
his weaknesses and bring my strong suits to the table.”
Riley, who has 19 finishes -- five knockouts and 14 submissions --
among his 30 victories, said he will not be fazed if the fight
stays on the feet or it goes to the ground.
“I feel pretty comfortable in all areas,” said Riley. “I have
enough experience to know what to do in every situation. I feel
like I can make it difficult for him in a lot of different
The Riley-Ferguson fight will be aired on Spike TV’s broadcast of
the UFC 135 prelims, along with a middleweight bout pitting
Boetsch against Nick Ring. The
card is headlined by a light heavyweight title scrap featuring
defending champion Jon Jones and
former titleholder Quinton
Riley has alternated wins and losses in his last four contests
inside the Octagon, most recently capturing a unanimous decision
victory over Joe Brammer
at UFC 114 in May 2010. The Jackson’s
Mixed Martial Arts product said he understands a loss to
Ferguson could mean his walking papers.
“I first competed in the UFC at UFC 37 [in May 2002],” said Riley.
“I came back again in 2006, and both times were on single-fight
deals. This time, I’ve been here since November 2008 and I want to
stay here. Everybody knows the UFC is the name brand for mixed
martial arts, and great things have happened because of them.
There’s no place I’d rather be.”
As his lengthy career has progressed -- Riley’s professional debut
came all the way back in July 1997 -- the process of preparing for
a fight has changed greatly for the 30-year-old native of Tell
“My training has definitely evolved,” said Riley. “I’m smarter
about things now. After a hard session, I know not to push myself
too hard or else I’ll get hurt. My camps aren’t as intense, but I’m
still training hard. I’m just training smarter and getting more out
Ferguson is coming off a first-round knockout of Ramsey
Nijem at “The Ultimate Fighter 13” Finale in June and has won
four straight fights. The knockout was chosen as the “Knockout of
the Night” and gave “El Cucuy” an extra $40,000 in bonus money.
However, if Riley has his way, Ferguson will not be getting any
bonuses after their fight.
“Whenever you’ve been in a sport as long as I’ve been in MMA,
there’s going to be some burnout,” said Riley, “but I’m really
feeling motivated for this fight. I’ve had a good camp. There’s a
lot of guys [at Jackson’s] getting ready for fights, and there are
so many good fighters to train with. It’s been a long, tough road
for me with some ups and downs, but I’m pretty excited about moving