David “The Caveman” Rickels (15-2) couldn’t be more excited to fight in front of his hometown crowd.
Rickels meets Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (11-5) in a lightweight tournament quarter-final bout at Bellator 113 this Friday. The event’s venue, the Kansas Star Arena, is just 10 minutes away from Rickels’ birthplace of Derby, Kansas.
“The people are great around here,” Rickels told SciFighting.com. “I’ve always been huge on the energy from the crowd and it doesn’t get much better than being in your hometown. I plan to build off that. I’ve sold over 500 tickets. It’s going to be really cool man.”
Rickels will likely be in the best shape of his career for his hometown fans as he has had one of his best training camps to date. “Training camp went really well,” Rickels stated. “I’m always big on conditioning, making sure my body is in shape, and fine tuning everything else to make sure my techniques are good. Everything just feels right going into this fight. Hopefully I’ll be able to show that off this Friday.”
Rickel’s opponent Freire has showcased dangerous knockout power during his Bellator run, but it’s not much of a concern for the Wichita based fighter. “He does have knockout power and he is dangerous but I think he fades later in the fight, where I get better,” Rickels said. “Every minute that I’m in there I feel that I do a little bit better. I’m just going to avoid getting knocked-out in the first round, then beat his ass!”
Freire’s last bout was a win over Edson Berto. The bout was a huge change from his usual style as he took on a bit of a measured approach. “He’s been fighting a little different,” Rickels commented. “I would say usually it’s not a good thing to change your style up that much, but I’m just going to focus on me. I’m going to go out there, keep my defense tight and put these hands on him. I think I’m a better technical striker than him and I’m looking forward to showing that. If it goes to the ground I’m confident there too.”
Rickels is just one fight removed from a title fight with then Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler. The fight didn’t last long as Rickels was on the wrong side of a 44 second knockout. Instead of moping over the loss, Rickels turned it into a positive for his career. Rickels took on JJ Ambrose at Bellator 103 and defeated his foe via third round TKO in an absolutely dominant performance.
“Absolutely,” Rickels said when asked if his loss to Chandler has fueled his performance against JJ Ambrose. “I know how good I am. I believe the mental part is a huge part of the fight game and I didn’t want that fight to bother me. I took all the frustration and anger from that fight and turned it to a positive so I could whip JJ Ambrose’s ass and show people how really good I am.”
The win over Ambrose lead to Rickels being selected to be a part of Bellator’s Season Ten Lightweight Tournament. Even though Rickels knows he will potentially have to face other fighters in the tournament, he doesn’t pay them much attention until he is scheduled to face them. “I really don’t focus on any other fights until this one is done,” Rickels admitted. “The only guy I’ve really thought about in this tournament is Marcin Held. He’s got those leg locks and would be an interesting matchup. Other than that, I’m just looking forward to beating up Patricky. That’s what I have to do first.”
Rickels is no stranger to Bellator’s tournament format. He won the promotion’s Lightweight Tournament during the eighth season. Many would believe that this would give Rickels a leg up on his opposition, but the fighter has a simpler reason as to why he’ll be successful during this tournament. “I think that my skills give me a leg up,” Rickels said. “It just boils down to performing each and every night.”
Should Rickels once again win the tournament, he would book a date with the winner of Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler’s trilogy fight. For Rickels, having to choose between the two as an opponent is just as tough as fighting one of them. “That’s a tough one,” Rickles admitted when asked who he would prefer to face for the title.”Just fighting Alvarez would be bad ass. He’s a great and exciting fighter, but I really do want a rematch against Chandler. I believe I can do much better. I’m confident enough in my skills to believe that I can beat him. I’d really like to write a different story to that one.”
Before Rickels fights for the Bellator title again, he knows he has to get through Freire first. I’ll let Rickels himself tell you why to watch the fight if you’re one the fence about watching Bellator this Friday. “Watch this fight because you’re going to watch Pitbull fade and you’re going to watch me put a smashing on this guy,” Rickels stated with confidence. “I bring in a lot of pressure and a lot of punches. I don’t think he’s going to be able to put up with it.”
A decisive finish for Rickels advances him to the next round of the tournament, but more importantly, it will bring back one of the most memorable victory celebrations in Bellator’s history. After his win over Ambrose, Rickels jumped out of the cage and celebrated with his hometown crowd. When asked if a finish will guarantee a repeat celebration, Rickels wasn’t shy about his answer.
“It will,” a laughing Rickels admitted. “If I finish him I’m going to swan dive into that bitch”
For all of you Bellator 113 coverage, visit SciFighting.com.