by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com Former UFC lightweight Rich Clementi has a chip on his shoulder.

After suffering through inconsistency, he feels he was just about to put everything together when his release came early last year.

Eager to prove that he’s far from finished, Clementi has joined forces with Bellator, beginning with his headlining fight on the promotion’s Sept. 9 card in his backyard of New Orleans.

“I’m doing great,” Clementi told MMAWeekly.com. “I had back-to-back fights, put everybody away pretty fast, and literally went from one training camp into the next.

“So it’s like my training camp has been going on for four months, and I’m the best I’ve probably ever been my whole career.”

Clementi feels the addition of a new concept to his training also is factoring into him being at his absolute peak.

“In the past six months I’ve implemented a strength and conditioning coach after spending most of my career without one and it’s just made a huge difference,” he stated.

On Sept. 9, Clementi will get an opportunity to showcase the newest version of himself against Carey Vanier in his first nationally televised fight in over a year.

“He’s a good wrestler and is a southpaw, which can be challenging sometimes, but I think it will be more challenging to him because I’ve fought more southpaws,” said Clementi of Vanier. “He’s really quick, but doesn’t look like the strongest guy in the world, so I’m looking to use my size against him a little bit.

“In my last fight I walked in there the day of the fight at 183. So I think my size is going to be a step up a little bit and I think my jiu-jitsu is going to nullify and surpass his wrestling.”

Clementi is happy to be in Bellator and plans on big things happening with the company.

“My ultimate goal is to fight for their title,” he stated. “Anything that is a step in my way is a mini-roadblock and I plan on plowing through it. That’s just my overall attitude and there’s nothing that’s going to keep me from it.

“I’m really, really hungry. I feel like I have a lot to prove not only to the fans, but for my own satisfaction as well.”

Having taken steps to solidify not only his training, but also his private life, Clementi feels like a whole new fighter, and his opponents will be lesser off for it.

“I want to thank Bellator for letting me headline a show in my own backyard,” he closed out. “I plan on representing the organization well and I’m 100-percent and looking to kill it on Sept. 9.

“For the guys that have followed me for a long time, I appreciate it and just watch out, because I’m very, very focused and very much on a mission. I figure I was a dangerous guy before, but now that I’m a little more focused in the right direction, that makes me a much more dangerous animal.”