By Nick Portella
I have a real treat today. I had the opportunity to sit down with the prehistoric caveman living in modern times. One of Bellator MMA’s most winningest fighters David “The Caveman” Rickels. At the age of 28 he had a perfect amateur MMA record of 10-0 and a Muay Thai record of 4-1. On the professional scene The Caveman totes a record of 18-4 with his most recent win coming via TKO(punches) 00:44 seconds into round three against Aaron Derrow at Bellator 171 January 27, 2017. David is a welterweight fighting out of Wichita, Kansas
Nick: What does it mean (for you) to be a fighter?
David: It allows me to test myself mentally and physically. It gives me structure and a plan.
Nick: At what age did you begin to train martial arts?
David: I was 18 years old. Just finished high school.
Nick: What belts do you have and in what disciplines?
David: I hold a blue belt in jiu jitsu and a black belt in walkout entertainment.
Nick: With a perfect amateur record of 10-0, why did you decide to go to the professionallevel?
David: Besides being 10-0 I also have a Muay Thai record of 4-1. I had quite a bit of experience before going pro.
Nick: How long have you been with Janjira Muay Thai Kansas?
David: My coach is Andy Zerger and he was a long time student of Saekson Janjira. I’ve been with him since day one
Nick: You have an extensive background in multiple disciplines, do you prefer to keep the fight on your feet or take it to the ground?
David: I prefer kickboxing with my opponents.
Nick: What would you say your biggest strengths are?
David: Perseverance and persistence. I always land on my feet ready to keep pushing.
Nick: You have finishes in so many different ways what is your favorite strike/submission to use in any fight?
David: My favorite has to be a head kick but I’ve actually yet to land one in a fight. I’m working on it though.
Nick: The next generation of fighters is a term we hear very often. Do you feel that your fighting style represents the next generation of professional mixed martial arts?
David: Yeah I think I’m somewhere in that gap. Very disciplined in a lot of areas.
Nick: Cutting weight and fighter safety is always a priority, what methods of cutting weight do you use? How much weight do you usually have to cut before a fight? Do you feel the weight cut has a major impact on your strength before a fight?
David: I was cutting to 155 and it was extremely hard for me. I could never get my body lower than 169 before fight week. 13/14 lbs of water leaving the body is really ough on your brain and body. My last cut to 170 though was easy. I only had to cut 2 lbs of water…
Nick: Bellator is the other huge name in the fight game today with its counterpart being the UFC. Have you ever thought of transition over to UFC or are your feet planted with Bellator?
David: I’m a Bellator fighter in and out. They supported me and gave me a chance from the get go. I’m loyal to that
Nick: Your nickname is the Caveman, who gave you that name and why?
David: If anyone other than the people at your gym give you the nickname you’re not doing itright lol. My buddy Dustin Blake gave me the nickname. Tough, long hair and beard.
Nick: I have to ask about your walk out. It is by far one of the coolest things to see and has taken on a life of its own. Was it planned the first time doing it or did it just evolve over time due to the nickname?
David: Oh yeah it definitely evolved over time. One of my mentors in the game Joe Wilk was a big walkout guy. He did all sorts of dancing and showmanship. I kind of took notes from him to get to where I am today.
Nick: With marketing being such an important part of a career, are there plans to have the Caveman line of gear out? From talking with fans I think it would be a huge success.
David: I definitely want to create some kind of market for my t shirts/ hoodies I sell.
Nick: At Bellator 171 you faced Aaron Derrow. You hurt him in round 1 and wobbled him early in round 2 with a left. Round 2 arguably could have been a 10-7 round due to a dominating performance on your part. A score like that is not seen because at that point the fight should be stopped. With the risk of serious injury, do you feel that the fight should have been stopped in round 2?
David: Yeah he was SUPER durable. I hit him with lots of really hard shots on the feet and on the ground. His brain just didn’t want to shut off. I started to feel bad. He literally at one point looked up at me and said ” I’m too old for this” to my reply “let’s just have some fun” it was kind of surreal.
Nick: The term fan favorite is used a lot in the MMA world. It could the fighter’s home town or obviously the current champion. What is it like to know that you are a fan favorite anywhere that you fight due to personality, fan interaction, and pure showmanship?
David: It makes me happy. The original idea behind my walkouts and general fun naturure That ismy personality but I wanted to give the fans someone to cheer for or against.
Nick: What’s next for The Caveman in the MMA world?
David: I’ll steal one from Cowboy Cerrone. Anybody, anytime, and anyplace!
Nick: If you could have one dream fight with anyone, who would it be? Why?David: Dream fight right now is Benson Henderson in my hometown.
Nick: I have to ask for the fans, any spoilers or breaking news coming from you inthe near future?
David: Nothing at the moment but I hope to have some soon.
You heard it from the man himself. While David is as entertaining walking to the octagon as he is performing I am sure there are good things for him on the horizon. I would like to thank David for giving me the time to complete this interview. I will be following up with him for sure as he makes his run for the title. Until next time this is Nick Portella from TheMMATakeOver.com signing off.