Fighter of the Week: Ricardo Lamas
By Jason Powers
Each week, our staff will pick a fighter that did something significant during the week, and be chosen as our fighter of the week. The article will take an in depth look at the fighter’s career, and why he was our pick.
In this week’s addition of the Fighter of the Week, we have chosen Ricardo Lamas.
Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas
Pro Record: 17 wins & 5 losses
Association: MMA Masters & Team Top Notch
Weight Class: Featherweight/Lightweight
Lamas is an American born Cuban/Mexican fighter who is currently ranked #5 in themmatakeover.com rankings in the featherweight division. In his most recent fight this past weekend in The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 3 Finale, Lamas took on and defeated themmatakeover.com #9 ranked Charles Oliveira by guillotine choke in the second round in a battle of two BJJ black belts.
Lamas went to Hinsdale Central High School in Hinsdale, Illinois where he excelled in wrestling, prompting a scholarship to Division III school, Elmhurst College, where between 2001-2005, Lamas would win over 100 collegiate matches and earn All-American honors at 157 lbs. He would also return to the school to serve as the assistant wrestling coach after his collegiate career had ended.
As we’ve seen many times in MMA, the transition from college wrestler to MMA fighter seems to be a popular one for many and Lamas is no exception. Within 3 years of graduating with his degree in exercise science, Lamas was fighting professionally at lightweight, full-time. In his first professional fight in FCE, he defeated his opponent by guillotine choke, as he would do in his second fight winning the ISCF Lightweight Championship. He’d go on to win his next three fights in various organizations before landing a contract with the WEC. In his first fight with the WEC at WEC 39, he would defeat veteran, Bart Palaszewski by UD. He would then get his first taste of defeat by being TKO’d by another veteran in Danny Castillo in the second round of WEC 42. Lamas would stay busy, though, fighting four more times for the organization in the span of thirteen months. A streak that would see his three fight win streak snapped by Iuri Alcantara, a late fill-in for the injured Maciej Jewtuszko, who landed with a one punch KO at WEC 53 and have Lamas his second career loss.
As part of the merger with the UFC in 2010, all WEC fighters were transferred to the UFC. Lamas would start his UFC debut in dominating fashion by dropping down to featherweight and beating UFC veteran Matt Grice by TKO in the first round. In his second fight with the UFC, Lamas would have his most impressive win to date, an arm triangle submission victory over heavily favored Cub Swanson at UFC on Fox 1… a victory that would earn him a bonus for Submission of the Night and put him “on the map” in the featherweight division. Having to be removed from his scheduled fight against Dustin Poirier, due to injury, ironically replacing an injured Erik Koch, Lamas had to wait seven months between fights before he faced and beat another heavily favored opponent Hatsu Hioki at UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida by unanimous decision..
Lamas would start getting his due, as he was briefly linked to fight Frankie Edgar before Edgar replaced and injured Erik Koch to fight champ, Jose Aldo. Instead, Lamas would eventually face Koch and defeat him by TKO by elbows in the second round. This fight and his four-fight win steak in the UFC would lead to the biggest fight of his career, a championship fight against Jose Aldo at UFC 169. This would be Lamas’ first fight in over a year due to being pulled from UFC 162 in July of that year because his opponent, Chan Sung Jung, would replace an injured Anthony Pettis to face Aldo at UFC 163. Lamas,who was training BJJ at the prestigious MMA Masters under the tutelage of renowned BJJ practitioner Daniel Valverde received his BJJ back belt before this fight. Valverde comes from a impressive lineage of BJJ practitioners including Mistuyo Maeda and the Gracie’s. Valverde is also known for being a TUF coach for Team Noguiera on TUF 8. Getting a black belt from him is well deserved.
On Feb 1, 2014 at UFC 169, Lamas would lose his effort at knocking Aldo off of his perch at the top of the division, losing by a unanimous decision (49-46 on all cards) and giving Aldo his 17th straight win at the time. Lamas would eventually bounce back with a couple of nice wins, including a submission win over Dennis Bermudez before getting TKO’d by Chad Mendes in the first round at UFC Fight Night 63. Lamas would again alternate wins and losses by winning his next fight by unanimous decision over Diego Sanchez, then losing to Max Holloway by the same result.
Lamas was then scheduled to fight BJ Penn in his return to MMA at UFC Fight Night 67 in the Philippines. There was a lot of trash talking leading up to the event with Penn saying he was going to finish Lamas and Lamas replying: ““I’m not going to be a stepping stone for anyone. I don’t care if he’s a 2-division world champ or whatever. I’m not here to let anybody make their comeback, make their career, and make their name off me. So it’s a bold statement for him to say that he’s gonna finish me, and I just don’t see it happening.” Well, for the record, I don’t think anyone saw that happening the way Penn did. But we may never know as Penn had to back out of the event citing an injury and the entire event was cancelled. Lamas was then rescheduled immediately to fight Charles Oliveira at this past weekend, at the Ultimate Fighter Latin America 3 Finale. Oliveira missed weight by almost 10 lbs., the fifth time he’s missed weight in his career. Lamas, who is half Mexican, said there was no way he wasn’t going to accept that fight stating before the fight after finding out the results of the Oliveira weigh-in and being approached by a UFC official asking if he’d still want to fight: “The people of Mexico came to watch a good fight. They always support me, and there was no way I was leaving without fighting in that cage.” After the fight he elaborated even more: “it wouldn’t have mattered if he was 20 or 30 pounds overweight”.
The fight was a battle of two highly touted BJJ practitioners. Lamas was in trouble early as he started the fight with a low kick but saw a counter right by Oliveira. The fight went to the mat and Lamas ended up in Oliveira’s half-guard. Lamas was able to stand for a moment but then slammed back to the mat by Oliveira. Oliveira then tried to work a D’Arce choke. Shortly after Oliveira was on top dominating the position. He sneaks Lamas’ back and tries to sneak in the choke. Lamas was able to survive, but the bell probably saved him as the choke was sunk in very deep. Oliveira easily won the first round. In the second round, it’s clear that Lamas wants to stand and strike. He kicks and tries a knee early but Oliveira takes him down. Lamas works his way to the top and as Oliveira scrambles, Lamas sinks in the guillotine choke, easily his favorite submission, and it’s in deep and forces Oliveira to tap at 2:13 in the second round.
Will this win propel Lamas back into the title picture? I think Lamas may get the winner of Pettis-Halloway in a possible rematch with Max. Possibly a Swanson rematch next year if Swanson gets past Choi or even a long awaited fight vs. Edgar… we will get a clearer picture on the division soon after the McGregor – Alvarez fight (to see if McGregor abandons the belt) and when/if it’s determined Aldo is really done with fighting in the UFC.