Rick Glenn is 11-0-1 in his last 12 bouts. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Rick Glenn knows what it means to fight, and that is a good thing in his line of work.
Glenn will put his 10-bout unbeaten streak on the line when he challenges World Series of Fighting featherweight champion Georgi Karakhanyan for his 145-pound title in the WSOF 10 co-main event on Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. “The Gladiator” will take into the cage some tough lessons he learned about fighting from the people closest to him.
As a 14-year-old growing up in Marshalltown, Iowa, Glenn was taught about combat sports by a boxer --his uncle, Mickey Glenn. By age 17, he had moved on from boxing to MMA, where he took his first amateur bout on two hours’ notice while still a high school student. His then-girlfriend of two years, now his wife of 10, picked him up early from his shift at a part-time job at Staples just to make it one time.
“I took that fight on a couple hours’ notice against a grown man and I was a kid at the time, and I finished him,” Glenn said. “I just fell in love with it after that.”
Glenn learned other, more difficult lessons about fighting from his grandmother, who suffered a stroke on Sept. 14 -- the same night he was to fight Artur Rofi at WSOF 5 in Atlantic City, N.J. He received the news after defeating Rofi by unanimous decision: “They told me, and I rushed back to Iowa from Atlantic City to see her.”
She was a fighter in her own right and held on to see her grandson return home.
“Luckily, she was still alive when I got there and she was able to make peace with a few people, as well,” Glenn said, “and she passed away a few days later.”
The victory against Rofi earned Glenn a shot at Karakhanyan and the vacant World Series of Fighting featherweight strap at WSOF 7 in December. It was by far the biggest opportunity of his career. However, there was another member of the Glenn family engaged in a fight of her own, and she needed him. Glenn’s 14-year-old sister had been diagnosed with bran cancer, and less than a month before his bout with Karakhanyan was scheduled to take place, she took a turn for the worse.
“We thought she was close to dying,” Glenn said. “She was kind of fading, and the nurses were saying that she might only have a week or two. I said, ‘Screw this, we’re going to spend time with her while she’s still here.’”
Glenn set his own career ambitions aside, pulled out of the fight and went back to Iowa once again to see her. However, just like her big brother, Aubrey Glenn is a fighter. She made it through that difficult time and is now back at home with her mother.
“She’s doing a lot better now,” Glenn said.
Team Alpha Male’s Lance Palmer stepped in to replace Glenn and lasted until 4:40 of the third round, where Karakhanyan submitted him with a guillotine choke. That afforded Glenn another shot at Karakhanyan for the title and brought back into focus the importance of his second family, which also knows a few things about fighting. Glenn met them when he and his wife, Jenny, bit the bullet in 2011 and made the move from Iowa to Milwaukee to join four-time world kickboxing champion Duke Roufus at the Roufusport academy. There, he linked arms with world-class fighters like reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Anthony Pettis, former Bellator MMA welterweight champion Ben Askren, Erik Koch and others.
“They’ve got striking down to a science,” Glenn said. “We have Duke. We have Ben Askren and his brother, Max, teaching us wrestling and Dan Wanderley and a bunch of other black belts teaching us jiu-jitsu. It’s world-class training, and it’s still in the Midwest, so it’s not too far away from where we were living.”
What was it like walking into this family of elite fighters?
“Anthony, Ben, Erik and the others were all pretty humble,” Glenn said. “I thought maybe some of them would be cocky, but they were very humble and very inviting.”
Glenn, who sports 12 finishes among his 14 career victories, admits good-natured rivalries developed.
“Well,” he said with a laugh, “I guess Anthony might give me some s--- every now and then.”
The camp has given him far more. Glenn, 25, has not lost since moving to Roufusport, and he now has a chance to add another world championship to the team’s resume. True to form, Glenn has tightened his emphasis ahead of the match against Karakhanyan.
“I can’t really focus on the title or the belt,” he said. “I just have to focus on the fight.”
By doing so, Glenn is sure to make both of his families proud.