by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
In sports, winning is the easy part, so they say. Whether you’re a young up and comer or veteran, it doesn’t matter when you’re on the winning path.
The same cannot be said for losing, however. It usually takes a true veteran to get through a tough patch in their career, especially after they had so much success prior. Such is the case for MMA veteran Rich Clementi.
After years of success in the 155-pound division, weight issues forced Rich up to the 170-pound class. From there things have not gone as well as they had previously.
Prior to the move up in weight, Clementi had been coming off of an impressive 9-fight winning streak, before suffering a defeat at the hands of Caol Uno at a K-1 Hero’s event in 2006 just prior to joining the cast at welterweight for The Ultimate Fighter 4.
In one of the series’ more surprising moments, Rich was ousted early by fellow veteran Shonie Carter. Then on the series’ finale in November of last year, Clementi suffered yet another defeat to Din Thomas.
A win over journeyman Ross Pointon at the start of 2007 uplifted Rich, but unfortunately he was unable to keep the momentum going as he fell to Roan Carneiro in April.
Now, just under five months later, Clementi returns to action, this time as a late replacement for fellow Team Extreme’r Tony Fryklund, at Richard Steele’s Steele Cage Promotions IFO show in Las Vegas tonight, refocused and determined to get back to the top of his game.
“I’m pretty much ready,” said Rich of stepping in as a late replacement this Saturday against Kyle Gibbons. “I’m not one of those guys who takes time off between fights and stuff. I’m one of those guys that loves training.”
“I was really picking up my tempo anyway, so I could get down to 155 on short notice. I was actually a month into what I consider a training camp – training 8 times a week – when this came up, so, I’m definitely ready,” continued Clementi.
When it comes to his opponent, Kyle Gibbons, Rich feels that his solid overall game and veteran experience will help him win out in the end.
“He’s a really tough kid, like 5-1, and a wrestler, so, I feel like I know what he’ll kind of bring to the table,” commented Clementi. “So, I’ll look to stand up, and if he takes me down, I’ll look to use my jiu-jitsu and stand back up.”
Rich added, “Yeah, he has a really good record and looks to be an up and coming force, but I think 10 years of experience means a lot. Wherever he goes [with the fight], I’ll be ready, he’s not going to shut me down in any one position.”
After the fight Clementi intends on moving back down to lightweight, where he’s been the most successful, as well get his personal life and training back on track after a very overwhelming year.
“Last year was very, very tough for me,” admitted Rich. “My wife now, was put on bed rest for [the birth of] our boy, we were opening up a business at the time and it all got dumped on me. Add in the [Ultimate Fighter] show, just having a kid, opening a new business, it was a really busy, hectic year for me.”
“That’s not going to be that way this year. I had a big discussion with my family regarding that, so, I’m looking to get my stuff back together now, and doing the kind of training I need to do and put a wrench in [my opponents'] careers that they have planned for themselves,” continued Clementi.
One of the things that will help Rich get things back on track is an emphasis on staying busy, which in the past has been a key to his success, and he’s already begun to line things up for the remainder of the year.
“The next fight I will be having will be against a tough Antoine Skinner in my own show,” announced Clementi. “I’m actually doing, as far as I know, the first Auto and MMA show at the same time. So it’ll be a full automobile show along with the fights, on October 13th at the LSU [Louisiana State University] campus in Baton Rouge, La.”
When it comes to returning to the UFC, Rich has ideas of what he’d like to do there, but knows that ultimately the decision is out of his hands when fans will get to see him next in the promotion.
“I’m still under contract with the UFC, and when Melvin Guillard gets back into the mix, I’d love to fight him, and I’ve made that known to Joe Silva [the UFC's matchmaker] and everyone,” exclaimed Clementi. “I’m not scared to get in there with everybody – and that’s something Joe Silva knows about me.”
Rich added, “You call me and I’ll always be ready, and I have a contract and I get paid to fight, so, if they want me to fight anybody, so be it, I’ll step up, not make excuses or wait for a better opponent to come around. I fight whoever they want me to fight, that’s just how I am and it will continue to be that way.”
Refocused and ready to get back into the hunt for a title, Rich Clementi intends to provide a lot of excitement at this Saturday’s Steele Cage Promotions IFO show in Vegas, and beyond.
“As always, I’d like to thank Monte Cox and my family,” said Clementi. “Come out and check me out [tonight] at Steele Cage Promotions in Vegas on the 1st, because I’m looking to bang some heads.”
“Also, keep me in mind, I’ve got a huge fight coming up on the nation’s first ever full car show and fights, on October 13 at the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, La., and keep watching to see what I’ve got coming down the pipeline to excite you with,” concluded Rich.