“It was good to get those two victories and end the year strong like that,” Richman told MMAWeekly.com. “After suffering those close decision losses earlier in the year at featherweight, it felt good to get down to bantamweight and really showcase my skills and put on exciting, dominating performances.”
Richman’s wins over Ed West and Nam Phan came after he made a long-delayed move down to 135 pounds.
“The move was a long time coming and almost happened after my loss to Frodo (Magomedrasul Khasbulaev) in my second tournament final (in 2013),” said Richman.
“I wanted to go to 135 pounds after that, but the (previous Bellator management) literally paid bantamweights 50 percent less than everybody else based on the tournament format. It was not what I wanted it to be, so I stayed at 145 pounds because I’m not dropping to 135 pounds to make half the pay.”
While Richman might not notice much of a difference in his game at 135 pounds, he acknowledges that he’s no longer undersized against the competition like he was before.
“I feel like I’m bigger than my last two opponents at bantamweight,” said Richman. “All my fights at featherweight I never felt like I was bigger by any means. I was taller than some but not bigger.”
Richman (18-5) returns to Bellator on Friday in Temecula, Calif., to face former 135-pound champion Eduardo Dantas in a rescheduled bout from March.
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“I like his style, but I’m going to go in there, pressure him, cut off the cage like I always do and connect with very heavy shots,” Richman said of facing Dantas. “I feel like my precision in my striking is pretty good, I hit hard and I don’t think he’s been hit clean in a while – I feel like that will make a big difference.”
With a possible title shot on the line and his opponent looking for redemption, Richman feels his bout on May 15 won’t be one that anyone is going to want to miss.
“I do expect (Dantas) to be very hungry,” said Richman. “I’m fighting him after he lost the title – which he thinks he won – so he’s going to be just as hungry as I am. It’s going to make for a very exciting fight.”