There are thinkers, and there are overthinkers.
And Mike Ricci thinks the overthinkers usually outnumber the thinkers – even as he’s trying to think a little less and just go on instinct, even when the overthinkers sure are in his ear an awful lot.
Ricci (7-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) on Saturday meets Colin Fletcher (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) to open the pay-per-view main card of UFC 158, which takes place at Bell Centre in Montreal, Ricci’s home base at Tristar Gym alongside welterweight champion and card headliner Georges St-Pierre.
Ricci said he’s excited for the chance to fight on his first UFC pay-per-view on his home turf one what is expected to be a huge card mostly thanks to St-Pierre’s title defense against Nick Diaz.
“I’ve got the whole package – it doesn’t get any better than that, being home, on pay-per-view, with Georges,” Ricci told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) this past week. “I don’t think it gets any better than that.”
The home fight means he has gotten bombarded with ticket requests. It varies, but the UFC typically gives out four tickets to fighters on the card. So Ricci has tried to steer clear of as many of the requests from friends and distant family coming out of the woodwork.
And it also means the overthinkers come out to play, wondering if he has a home cage advantage being in Montreal.
“I kind of tried my best not to get involved with any of that (ticket) stuff this time around,” Ricci said. “I don’t offer anyone tickets – there’s a lot of people that have been calling and texting my phone, and I just don’t reply. Unless you’re part of my immediate circle and my training camp, I haven’t spent too much time with you or talking to you (during camp). But about it being a home advantage, that term is used in sports all the time. But I think a fight is a fight. I’d fight this dude in a laneway, let alone in Montreal or wherever else. But not having to travel and live in a hotel for a week is definitely an advantage.”
Ricci will be fighting for the first time since his time on Season 16 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” where he reached the welterweight finals this past December. A favorite heading into the fight despite fighting up a division at 170 pounds instead of his current and natural 155, Ricci was outpointed by Colton Smith for the tournament title.
A quick glance at his resume shows a 1-2 mark in his past three fights. But that, Ricci said, is far from fair. And maybe in that regard, overthinking really is underthinking. Don’t forget, Ricci cautioned – his fights in the “TUF” house don’t count on his record. And there, he went 4-0 in the taped fights on the show – a TKO win to earn his spot in the house and three wins once in the cast to reach the live finale against Smith.
“My record my last three is 1-2, but my last six times I’ve stepped into the (cage), five times I’ve walked out victorious. You might not count my fights on the show, but I do. And two of those fights were knockouts. To get two finishes at welterweight was a big accomplishment for me. These guys were a lot bigger than I was, and I still managed to put them away.”
Ricci believes fighters actually should get credit for the taped fights on “TUF” seasons – or at least some of them. Until the semifinal round, the fights on the show are scheduled for two rounds. And that, he said, is the sticking point even though the fights are overseen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. But in the semifinals, the fights are scheduled for three. So he’d love to see his knockout of Neil Magny count on his record.
“I think you should (get credit for them),” he said. “When I fought Neil Magny, it was (scheduled for) three rounds. Colton Smith did three rounds with Jon Manley. How does that not count on his record, or count on mine? When I step into the cage knowing I’m going to do three rounds and it’s a sanctioned bout, I don’t know how it doesn’t count. I kind of would get caught up with records in the past, but after being on ‘TUF’ and fighting so frequently and seeing them not go onto my record made me realize (records) don’t really mean anything.”
But the way the UFC works, records sort of mean something, at least to most people. And Ricci might not have to think, over overthink. He certainly knows how important a win would be for him coming off the loss to Smith in December. At this point in the UFC, it could be the difference between sticking around and a pink slip, since two losses in a row these days can be the kiss of death – especially in a highly populated lightweight division.
So Ricci has studied a bit for Colin Fletcher, who knows a thing or two about coming up short on “TUF” like Ricci did. Fletcher was runnerup to Norman Parker this past fall on the Australia vs. U.K. edition of the show.
But from watching a little bit of a film, Ricci doesn’t plan on overthinking. Not at all. Not even close.
“I don’t plan on thinking at all this fight,” he said. “I’m just going to go on auto-pilot and do what I’ve got to do. There’s nothing left do to but to go out there and perform. Try getting into an octagon in front of 20,000 people with a guy in front of you trying to rip your head off, and you tell me how much thinking you’re doing.”
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