After picking up a win over Davi Ramos to close out 2014, Rickels had a no contest against John Alessio and a loss to Michael Chandler in 2015.
It’s a pattern that Rickels acknowledges that he follows, and is working hard to ensure doesn’t happen again.
“As soon as I start to gain some steam, something derails me,” Rickels told MMAWeekly.com. “Unfortunately that was a right hand from Chandler to my nose which shattered it and spilled blood all over the place.
“Fighting Michael Chandler is like fighting the big brother who teaches me a lesson I need to learn; and that lesson is that I need to get better. I went back and changed my camp and I’ve really started working on everything again and change the fundamentals of them and improve them.”
The biggest thing Rickels changed was that instead of going out periodically to Elevation Fight Team in Colorado for training, he spent the entirety of his most recent training camp there.
“I’d been out there before, but the way I did it, I would go out there for two or three days to spar and see where I was at in my camp,” said Rickels. “This time, I did my full camp out there and got away from a lot of distractions. It was nice to get away from those and just focus fully on fighting.”
“I think that I’ve done everything these last eight weeks to get the win by making myself better,” said Rickels. “I’m really confident that I’m a much better fighter than I was. Carrying that confidence with you can translate in magnificent ways in the cage.
“I want to show everybody that I’m not done yet. I’m going to climb back up. That’s what I’m going to do on Feb. 26 by finishing Bobby Cooper.”
With a renewed vigor, Rickels is looking to put his recent inconsistencies behind him and get back to title contention in 2016.
“I changed my camp, changed the way I did things, and now I want to show people that I’m not done,” said Rickels. “I’m not quitting. I’ve had one goal since I got into this. I never wanted to be mediocre. I want to be a champion.
“I’m going to climb up and keep climbing. I want to make my way back to the belt. It starts with one win and then keep racking them up. I look to start that against Bobby Cooper.”