Prior to becoming a pro wrestler in 2004, if MMA had been more viable to him, Richards might have ended up in our sport.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com from his home in Indiana, Richards discussed his MMA influence, his current favorite fighters, and what kind of fighter he may have been if things had gone a different route.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly Davey, fans have noticed a distant MMA influence in your wrestling style, can you tell us how that came to be?
Davey Richards: I amateur wrestled in high school and college, and a teammate of mine showed me some tapes of Pancrase with Masakatsu Funaki, Minoru Suzuki, Ken and Frank Shamrock, and Bas Rutten. I got more into that, and through it I got more into the history of Pancrase, RINGS and the UWFi, and that’s what really got me into it.
I’m from a really small town in Washington, so there were no Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai schools there at the time. So I looked up wrestling schools and thought I’d do that. I moved to Atlanta and started training pro wrestling.
MMAWeekly.com: Who are some of your favorites or fighters who influenced you?
Davey Richards: I’m not really a huge fan of theatrical pro wrestling, but being in the U.S., it’s kind of part of the job. But my favorites are still guys like Funaki or Suzuki or (Katsuoryi) Shibata. I’ve wrestled shoot style and have trained with Josh Barnett, and I went and lived in England for a month last year to train at The Snake Pit.
I’ve always had a fascination with catch wrestling, so I’m a big fan of Josh, of Dean Lister and Tony Cacchine, but as far as the new guys go, Jon Jones is amazing. Almost on the fly he can adapt to any situation – and like the Bruce Lee saying, he really is like water – so he’s definitely one of my favorites.
(Georges) St-Pierre was one of my favorites too because of his incredible work ethic. It’s guys like that who have that warrior mentality and who can push themselves to another level that other people can’t that are really inspiring to me.
MMAWeekly.com: Let’s say you chose a different path and became an MMA fighter instead of a pro wrestler. What kind of fighter do you think you’d be?
Davey Richards: I’d definitely try to close the distance, use my wrestling and try to take guys down, and work the ground and pound or use submissions. At five-foot-seven, I’ve always been a stocky guy, who even in college wrestled at 170 pounds. So I’ve always been a thicker guy and heavier set, so anything I can do to kill distance is what I have to do. If I stay at distance, I’m going to get killed.
MMAWeekly.com: You recently joined TNA with your longtime tag-team partner and rival Eddie Edwards. Tell us what it’s been like being part of a company that’s seen worldwide.
Davey Richards: It’s been great. It’s a perfect schedule for me. (Edwards and I) had our tryout with the WWE, but it wasn’t conducive to me, because there are things I like to do outside of wrestling at home. I love training jiu-jitsu and it’s a big part of my life and a big release for me, and I need that. So being on a national stage and still being able to come home and train is a perfect balance. I couldn’t be happier.
MMAWeekly.com: Would you like to compete in grappling tournaments if you had the opportunity?
Davey Richards: I would love to do grappling tournaments. It would be a huge treat. Unfortunately we work every weekend, and I haven’t heard of a grappling tournament that wasn’t on the weekend, so it’s tough. But yeah, if I can ever get the opportunity to, that’d be a dream come true for me.
MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for taking time out for us, Davey. Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers in closing?
Davey Richards: Make sure you check out TNA Impact Thursday nights at 8 PM (Eastern). I think MMA fans will really like Impact. People like me, Bobby Lashley, and (Samoa) Joe come in and have a lot of (MMA-based) stuff that’s going to pop up, and we also have “Rampage” (Quinton Jackson) and “King” Mo (Lawal).