by Tom Call and Jeff Cain
Gabe “Godzilla” Ruediger, the former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) lightweight champion, will make his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut September 23rd at UFC 63 against “The Ultimate Fighter” season two contestant Melvin Guillard.
Ruediger spoke with MMAWeekly about fighting in the premier mixed martial arts promotion in the U.S., becoming a full-time fighter for the first time in his fight career, his opponent, and how he feels the match will play out.
Ruediger told MMAWeekly, “I just signed a contract with the UFC, Melvin Guillard, September 23rd. That’s my main priority, and what I’m most excited about.”
Like most up and coming fighters, Gabe has had to balance his MMA career while holding down a job to make ends meet. Now that he has signed to compete in the UFC, Ruediger has focused his work efforts on punching a heavy-bag instead of punching a time clock.
He said, “This is the first fight that I’m going to have that I’m going to be able to train full-time. I told my boss that I’m taking a leave of absence . . . I’m going to be a full-time fighter, so I’m excited about that.”
Asked about fighting in the UFC, and whether that was one of his goals, Gabe responded, “When I first started, I didn’t necessarily have goals except for to just fight. It’s an honor for me, and it goes above and beyond whatever I thought I was going to be able to do. For me, there’s a lot of big promotions, but along with everyone else the UFC is the one that first got me started when I was doing Kung Fu as a teenager. You know what I mean? And when I got the call about the contract, I was just excited.”
Ruediger’s goals in the beginning may not have been much more than to simply fight, but time changes people, and their goals change with them.
“To put on the best show possible, and I think to attain another title. I had the WEC title. And I think when you reach a certain level, especially now that I can train full-time, I’d like to be able to fulfill my potential, and hopefully that means taking home more gold,” Ruediger stated when questioned about his current aspirations.
“Godzilla” discussed the match up with Guillard, saying, “As soon as I found out that he was a potential opponent I started looking him up. I’m familiar. I’m also a fan, so I especially try to keep up on the lightweight because you never know when a potential fight with one could be. He’s very athletic. He hits hard. He has got decent wrestling, but he’s not really a technician. That’s where I think he’s going to make mistakes. I’ll capitalize, and I’m going to finish him. I know I’m going to finish him.”
On September 23rd, in California, at UFC 63, “Godzilla” invades America’s top MMA organizion.