Bellator lightweight contender David “Caveman” Rickels started out 2013 in a big way by winning the year’s opening 155-ound tournament and earning a shot at title holder Michael Chandler in July.
Unfortunately for Rickels, his bout with Chandler ended abruptly, via knockout just 44 seconds into the fight.
“It was a good start to the year with winning the tournament,” said Rickels. “It built a lot of confidence in myself and I took that confidence into my fight with Chandler, but I just got caught right off the bat.
“That’s the thing with the MMA game, you make one mistake, you pay for it.”
Rickels is not letting the loss to Chandler define him. As he feels he was on the right path having defeated some of the toughest competition in Bellator to get the title shot in the first place.
“To be able to beat those guys and perform how I am truly able to perform, it felt great to get those wins,” said Rickels. “The loss hurt, but I still feel like I’m a Top 10 fighter in the world and I’m seeking to prove that again.
“I’m on redemption mode. I want to get back into that winning column.”
Since his fight with Chandler, Rickels has made small tweaks to his game, which he hopes will pay off Friday night when he makes his return at Bellator 103 in Kansas.
“I’ve been working on my boxing a little bit more and staying tighter,” he said. “I’ve always taken pride in my chin and being able to take shots, but now let’s just take less of them and minimize the chance of being put down.”
Rickels (14-2) will be facing J.J. Ambrose (19-4) in a bout he feels could end up a myriad of places.
“I think hurting (Ambrose) is going to be the key to winning,” said Rickels.
“He’s good all-around on everything, but I’m happy to go wherever this fight goes because I’m confident in my skills in being a well-rounded fighter. I think I could win this fight with numerous possibilities.”
While having a busy schedule has Rickels wanting to take some time off by year’s end, if an opportunity arises, he’s more than willing to get back in the cage and close out the year as he started it.
“I’d like to see myself in a hammock somewhere drinking a pina colada,” Rickels joked.
“The truth is, I’ve been staying really busy and I’m glad to do something I love, so if another tournament rolls around, throw me in there.”
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