by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy San Jose Sabercats/Aric Crabb)
Earlier this year during the most recent Arena Football season MMAWeekly featured San Jose Sabercats lineman Rex Richards who it just so happened was an accomplished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and a two-time MMA fighter.
Since the initial profile the Sabercats went on a roll, making it to the semi-finals of the AFL playoffs, falling to the eventual league champions Chicago Rush, and Richards headed back into fight mode, winning two in a row, raising his streak to four.
Like many young standout fighters Rex has wanted to step up and test himself on bigger stages and he’ll get that opportunity on December 8th in San Jose as he makes his Strikeforce MMA debut against Kyle Leviton.
“I feel really good,” said Richards of his status heading into Strikeforce. “I’ve been training a lot of stand-up and ground, so I’m feeling really well-rounded right now. I feel strong; feel like my heart rate will be able to go the distance if I need to.”
“I feel like each one of my fights I feel my skill level much better,” continued Rex. “The crowd and stuff won’t bother me; I’ve been in front of big crowds – over 100,000 people – before and if anything that makes me compete better. So I’m really excited, it’s the next level and I’m ready to keep it going.”
In regards to Richards’ opponent on December 8th, Kyle Leviton, Rex knows little about him, but it’s not the first time he’s been in such a situation and so he’s coming in prepared.
“I’m going into it blind as always,” admitted Rex. “He sounds like quite a specimen – he’s 6’8″, 290lbs – so he’ll be the biggest guy I’ve fought so far. That’s all I really known about him. He was kind of a late entry and I haven’t had any time to look up much about him. I look at it like this, the gameplan I’ve had the whole time, I’m going to stick with it and if I have to adapt during the fight I will.”
After holding their last show in Fresno, Strikeforce once again returns to the HP Pavilion in San Jose, the site of their historic record-breaking first two events. It’s a venue that Richards is very familiar with, considering it’s the home field for the Sabercats of the AFL and it’s a place Rex is very comfortable in thanks to the fans.
“San Jose for football players and fighters is one of the greatest cities in the US,” exclaimed Richards. “I think it’s going to have great support, every time they have a show there it’s going to do real well. The support is the key…during the Sabercats’ games the fans were great and we loved them to death. They were part of what we wanted to represent and I’m glad I get to go back there and put on a fight for those guys as well.”
Rex added, “I’m sure there’s going to be several teammates and coaches there, our owner John Frye is going to be there it sounds like too. I’ve got a lot of support, if anything I’m definitely going to have people on my side that I’m used to going into battle with. I’ve been there for two years, I have a gameplan, I’m ready to roll and I’ve bled all over that arena, I’ve gone to war there several, several times, so it’ll be beneficial to me; I’m going to be very comfortable there.”
Not only is getting an opportunity to fight in front of his adopted hometown crowd a big plus for Richards, he is also excited to be part of the growing Strikeforce MMA organization.
“I was actually at the first Strikeforce they had at the HP Pavilion and just fell in love with the organization,” commented Rex. “They really seem like they put on quite a show and I’m blessed to be a part of it.”
Should all go well on December 8th, Richards looks to keep getting better by working hard and holding to the standards of one sport and ingratiating them into the other.
“I want to keep an undefeated record and for the fighting part of my life I want to just keep getting better each time,” explained Rex. “In each one of my fights I want to be an impressive fighter. Each time I fight I want people to anticipate me being out there. That basically means that every time I go into the gym, train and roll I need to go after it as hard as I can and continue to learn.”
“It’s the same thing with football, if you give up on learning new stuff, you get left behind. You see that happen with a lot of athletes. If you continue to want to learn and better your technique, strength and speed you’re going to continue to progress and leave the other guys in the dust,” further stated Richards.
If Rex is able to continue to evolve as an MMA fighter and brings in the same intensity that’s made him an AFL standout, the MMA community had best keep an eye out for him, as it won’t be long before Richards becomes a star in our sport as well.
“I want to thank my wife, family and all the guys that have been training me – Clay Pittman of Pittman Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Lubbock, Texas and my striking coach Brad Barnes of West Texas MMA – been supportive and helped me achieve these goals,” concluded Rex.
“As far as sponsors go, I have some guys interested right now, I’m not exactly sure which way we’re going, but we’re looking for sponsors. I know that if it’s not this fight, the next couple fights people are really going to be interested and I’m really going to try to put on a good show and every time I get out there I’m going to try to fight hard and try to be an impressive fighter. So I’m looking for sponsors and I appreciate any help.”
“To all you people out there in the Bay Area or other areas, however far you are away, there’s going to be some great fights so you should come check us out. There’s going to be two big guys – around 600lbs of man – getting in there and mixing it up. It’s going to be fast, violent and I hope to impress some new fans and keep the pride of the old ones I have in the San Jose area. I want to thank everyone for their support and I’m ready to show them what I’ve got.”