Bellator 113’s David Rickels: Gap Between Top Bellator and UFC Fighters Isn’t “That Different”
By Kelsey Mowatt
On Friday night, David Rickels will begin his latest journey in what he hopes will lead to his second, Bellator lightweight tournament win, when he takes on Patricky “Pitbull” Freire. While Rickels is understandably focused on defeating “Pitbull” and moving on to the tourney’s semifinals, “The Caveman” admits there’s another lightweight he’s going to be keeping a close eye on.
“I’m not really that kind of guy. I kind of fight one guy and then I’m on to the next one, but one of the guys that’s interesting to me is Marcin Held,” Rickels said on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently, when asked if he favors one fighter in particular to advance to the tourney finals. “That guy is just, and I hate to say one trick pony, but he’s really good at one skill set and that’s wrapping onto legs.”
The 22 year-old Held advanced to the tourney finals last year, but ended up losing by unanimous decision to Dave Jansen at Bellator 93. Prior to the defeat the Polish fighter had won five straight, and made highlight reels throughout the MMA world in 2012, by tapping out noted grappler Rich Clementi with a toe hold. At Bellator 113, Held will take on Rodrigo Cavalheiro in the tourney’s quarterfinals.
“That would be an interesting fight to train for,” Rickels added about Held, who also tapped out Derrick Kennington at Bellator 68 with a first round, heel hook. “You just have to work solely on one skill set, so that’s one guy we’ve kind of thought about, possibly facing here in the future, but it’s me and “Pitbull” right now. That’s all I’m really worried about.”
The competition’s other quarterfinal bouts will see Derek Anderson take on Brandon Girtz, and Tim Welch will fight Derek Campos. Initially, UFC veteran Terry Etim was scheduled to compete in the tourney, however, a recent knee injury pulled the British fighter from the competition. In November, Etim made his Bellator debut and scored a unanimous decision win over Patrick Cenoble.
“Yeah man, absolutely,” said Rickels, when asked if he’s excited about the prospect of fighting a high profile, UFC vet like Etim down the line. “I don’t think that the gap between high profile Bellator fighters and high profile UFC fighters is that different. I’ve trained with a lot of different guys in this game and I feel pretty comfortable with anyone I get in there with.”
When Rickels appeared on Full Contact Fighter Radio, Bellator had recently extended Gilbert Melendez a contract offer, and the fighter had agreed to the terms. The UFC eventually matched, and or bettered the offer, however, and Melendez will now challenge lightweight champ Anthony Pettis next.
“That would be a hell of a fight man; I would love that,” Rickels said at the time, while discussing the possibility of facing Melendez at some juncture.
Bellator 113 will be hosted by the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas, and the main card will be broadcast on SPIKE. The card will also feature light-heavyweight champ Attila Vegh taking on interim champ Emanuel Newton in the main event.
You can check out Rickels’ thoughts on facing “Pitbull” Freire, as well as his win over JJ Ambrose by heading here.