At 36 years of age, Rick Hawn will battle for a MMA title for the first time in his young career. Having trained for only four and a half years the man they call “Ghengis” has amassed a 14-1 fight record.
On Thursday January 17, Hawn will take on Michael Chandler for his Bellator Lightweight Championship in the main event on the organizations debut on SPIKE TV. This is a huge move for Bellator, as they make the move from MTV2 to a network that will be in millions of households.
“I’m definitely very pumped for this fight. It’s the debut on SPIKE, it’s the main event and I’ll be making history, so I’m really excited about it. It’s great for the fans, for the fighters involved and Bellator and SPIKE.”
Hawn earned himself the shot at Chandler’s title by winning the Bellator Season 6 lightweight tournament. In the finals he won a unanimous decision against Brent Weedman and knocked out Ricardo Tirioni and Lloyd Woodard in the first two rounds.
Coming into the fight, Hawn has opened up as a +140 underdog. It’s not the first time that the former welterweight contender has come in as with the fans against him.
“I’m always the underdog, it’s just something i’m used to and I kind of like it. That’s fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion. He’s definitely gone out there and earned that respect, so I have to go out there and prove to everyone that their wrong and I was the one that they should have been looking at. I’ve been under the radar and it’s not anyones fault, I’ve just got to go out there and have a good win and a solid convincing win and I can be put in the spotlight.”
In an interview earlier this week, Chandler called Hawn a “one-trick pony”. Whether this is the case or not has yet to be seen, as nine of his 14 wins have come by way of either TKO or KO. That one trick seems to be working for him.
“If I was just knocking people out like I have been and punching people then he could say I am just a one-trick pony, but it’s been working for me. I don’t expect him to be the one that’s going to be able to stop that. I’m sure he’s expecting that and we’ll see. I have a bunch of other tools that I can use as well, so it’s just part of the game and I’ve got to be prepared for him on every level. Whether it’s grappling or wrestling or on the ground or striking, so I’m a lot more than just a one-trick pony, that’s for sure.”
Prior to this fight “Ghengis” has not fought since his split decision loss to Jay Hieron in the Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament finals in May 2011.
The definition of “ring-rust” - When a fighters returns to the ring/cage after an absence and they are not performing in the ring as they were before the absence. Will this be the case when it comes to Hawn’s return? He does not think so.
“This time it was good. It was a rough schedule for the tournament. Having to fight three fights so soon is really taxing on the body and mind. Leading up to that I also had two to three month training camps. To have that extra time off was definitely great for my body and just to get refocused again. They wanted to push the fight back to the SPIKE debut anyways, so there were more eyes on the fight and more potential for sponsorship and stuff like that. So, I’m happy with it.”
Being a former Olympic Judokan Hawn looks to train with the best fighters and trainers in the world. After moving up the ranks, he found himself amongst the best at the Tristar gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He trains alongside the likes of UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre and UFC Welterweight contender Rory MacDonald on almost a daily basis. He has learned
“It’s been awesome. I’ve always throughout my career sought out the best trainers and schools in whatever sport I was training in and go to the best to become better. So, getting to another level in MMA was my main reason for going to Tristar. It’s amazing out there, you get to train with Georges [St-Pierre] which is awesome and Rory [MacDonald], as well as a bunch of top caliber UFC guys. So, it’s incredible.”
The man who has been called a “one-trick pony” would like to use that one trick on Thursday night against Chandler, as the TKO or knockout is his favorite winning vision.
“It’s hard to say, the fight could be anywhere from one round to five rounds. I obviously see me winning in a couple scenarios. My favorite one would be getting a good finish or a TKO or knockout. That would be the best for me. Like I said, anything can happen with MMA.”