With back-to-back losses to start off 2014, former Bellator featherweight tournament participant Mike “The Marine” Richman was in need of a strong win to cement his place in the company.
Luckily in September, Richman had one of his strongest performances during his time in the company when he knocked out Ed West at Bellator 126.
“Style-wise I felt like I knew how to stifle (West’s) unorthodox striking,” Richman told MMAWeekly.com. “I felt like I had a good game plan and knew how to deal with it, and executed my game plan well. At the end of the day I went out there and did exactly what I planned on doing.”
The win over West was Richman’s first at bantamweight. And while he had a hard weight cut, during the fight itself, Richman felt like nothing had changed in his move down to 135.
“I felt like I kept my speed and my power,” he said. “I hydrated well and ate well before the fight, so when I got inside the cage I felt I had good snap and pop on my strikes, I had good footwork and felt like I was still at featherweight fighting at bantamweight.”
Richman had previously wanted to move down to 135 pounds following a loss to Magomedrasul Khasbulaev in April of 2013, but was deterred in doing so until new Bellator management took over this year.
“I wanted to be part of the bantamweight tournament, but (the previous Bellator management) wanted to give bantamweights a 50-percent pay decrease for the tournament,” said Richman. “I wasn’t interested in taking a 50-percent decrease in pay for the bantamweight tournament, while the featherweights made $100,000.
“It was one of those things where it didn’t make sense to me, so I stayed at featherweight and took a couple more fights until the new regime came in and I was able to drop to bantamweight where I am now.”
Richman (17-5) will look to win his second fight in a row at 135 pounds when he takes on promotional newcomer Nam Phan (20-13) at Bellator 131 on Nov. 15 in San Diego.
“If I’m out there and clicking on all cylinders and everything is flowing and I’m seeing everything clearly, it’s going to end with a KO/TKO early in the fight,” said Richman. “If everything’s clicking and working for Nam, he’ll make it a difficult fight.
“We both like to stand in the pocket – and not many MMA fighters like to stand in the pocket and exchange punches – and that’s what is going to happen unless he completely changes the way he fights.”
At a new weight class with new Bellator management behind him, Richman wants to put a stamp on Nov. 15 and earn his way towards the championship that has thus far eluded him in the company.
“I think I’ve always got to go out there and put on impressive performances,” he said. “I definitely want to show them that I’m one of the top bantamweights in Bellator.
“I’ve got to go out there and put on a good show if I’m to become a top contender and get a title shot.”