For Bellator lightweight title contender David “Caveman” Rickels, his recent bout with John Alessio in June that ended in a no contest was both a frustrating and a rewarding experience.
Halfway through the first round, the bout was halted after Rickels kneed Alessio while he was down. Having felt he was doing well until the stoppage has Rickels feeling good, but the lack of a win is disappointing.
“It was bittersweet,” Rickels told MMAWeekly.com. “The sweet part is that I went in there and dominantly performed and felt amazing. The bitterness is that I didn’t get to double my money.”
Following a loss to Patricky “Pitbull” Freire in March of last year, Rickels revamped his entire outlook and has since gotten on a track that has him feeling better than ever.
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“I noticed in training that I felt a lot more in tune with myself, a lot more confident and physically dominant and Caveman-ish,” said Rickels. “I’ve got the ‘feel goods’ about everything in life and it’s translated into enjoying training and happy to be a professional fighter. A lot of good has come from a change of mindset.”
For his upcoming bout at Bellator 145 on Friday in St. Louis, Rickels (16-3, 1NC) will get a rematch against a man that beat him in 2013 in Michael Chandler (13-3) in what could be a title contention bout in the 155-pound weight class.
“When I look back at the fighter that I was that made it to the first Chandler fight, I’m baffled at how I was able to do it,” said Rickels. “It’s crazy to me.
“I think I was mostly fighting on natural talent. I was well-trained, but there were a lot of things I wasn’t doing to be the best in the world. I feel like I’m a much different fighter now than I was then.”
As for how they match up now, Rickels feels the fighter he is today should be able to get done what he couldn’t in 2013.
“For me to get this win, I’ve just got to focus my mind and be at peace with myself,” he said. “My conditioning is extremely on point for this fight. My striking feels crisp and smooth. My takedown defense and everything feel good.
“I relax my mind, I focus and fight the fight I believe I’m capable of, and I come out a champion, because I believe it’s only a matter of time before I become the champion.”
Rickels believes a win over Chandler on Nov. 6 will be the first step towards something bigger for him in the years to come.
“2016 is going to be the year of the Caveman, and then 2017 is going to be the year they write a movie about me,” said Rickels.
“We’re going to write this story where I beat Chandler in St. Louis, I fly to Brazil and beat Patricky, and then fly me back to Kansas to beat Will Brooks in my hometown. It’s going to be the greatest story of all time.”