Most fighters take some time off following a win, but sometimes an opportunity is just too good to pass up.
That’s exactly why bantamweight Mike Richman will be fighting Nam Phan at Bellator 131 on Nov. 15 in San Diego, less than two months after Richman’s first-round knockout of Ed West at Bellator 126.
“I just fought on Sept. 26, so getting ready for this fight has been just like an extended training camp for my last fight,” Richman, 29, recently told Sherdog.com. “I found out about this fight about two and a half weeks after the [West] fight. I wasn’t in the gym and not in training at all. I was going back to my strength and conditioning coach, but I was probably stuffing my face with food I didn’t need to be eating. Once I was offered the fight, I thought about how I’m always interested in building my brand and getting my face on TV, so I took it. I thought this was a good style fight for me.”
The fight against West was Richman’s first at bantamweight following a pair of unanimous decision losses to Desmond Green and Goiti Yamauchi earlier this year at 145 pounds. Richman said he wanted to switch divisions last year after a loss to Magomedrasul “Frodo” Khasbulaev, but negotiations got in the way of him making the weight cut.
“I wanted to move to 135 after the loss to Frodo,” said Richman, who has 15 finishes among his 17 professional MMA victories. “I was supposed to be in one of the tournaments at 135, and they sent me some paperwork, and moving to 135 would have involved me taking a 50-percent pay cut. I asked them about it, and they told me that they didn’t pay the bantamweights as much as they did the other weight classes. We went back and forth with it, and I told them I wasn’t going to take a 50-percent cut just to fight at bantamweight. I took some fights at featherweight and just thought I’d finish out my contract. Then, they offered me another tournament slot at 145, so I took it. At 145, I was more worried about takedowns and things. I just felt like I could drop to bantamweight and still be explosive and devastating. I thought I could move up the rankings faster and be something special, and fighting at 135 is my chance to do that.”
Richman, who served three combat tours in Iraq as an infantryman with the U.S. Marine Corps, is an enormous bantamweight, as he walks around between fights at about 170 pounds. “The Marine” said that natural size advantage will help him against most 135-pounders.
“I feel great at 135, but the weight cut sucks,” said Richman, who has been finished just once in his 22-fight pro career. “I have to have a much more strict diet, and it’s a bigger water cut, but after I rehydrate and get out there, I still feel strong and fast. When I step in the cage, I still feel like I’m fighting at featherweight. When I fought [West], I probably stepped into the cage at 168 or 170 pounds. I was about 170 pounds when they called me for this fight. Ten weeks out from the West fight, when I started camp, I was 180. I just focused on training hard and re-did my strength-and-conditioning program, and that was enough to get me down and hit the mark. It’s one of those things where I feel like I can use my natural size to my advantage, but I still have to perform and execute when I have a chance to.”
Richman and Phan both have professed an admiration for the other’s all-action style, and Richman said fans can expect another exciting fight when the two open the Spike TV broadcast.
“There’s a mutual respect there,” said Richman. “I like the way he fights. We can bring an exciting fight for the fans, and not many people fight like us. Not many fighters can bring the action that we do. They like to just smother and grind up against the fence. Everybody is looking for a win, but both of us want to go out there and be in each other’s face. Nothing is more awesome than that.”
While Richman wants to have an action-packed fight, if push does come to shove, he feels his wrestling background could give him an edge against Phan.
“I mean, if it came down to a close striking battle, I believe my wrestling, counter-wrestling and top poisition strength could give me an edge,” Richman said. “I’ve been on the mat with other black belts and bigger fighters and not gotten submitted. That could be a defining factor, but I don’t think about those kinds of things in the cage. I just look for a finish and try to knock someone out. I don’t even think about being exciting. I just want to come forward and look for the kill.”
« Previous Preview: Bellator 131 Next Bellator 131’s Nam Phan: Mike Richman Is ‘A Good Dance Partner for Me’ »