Ricco Rodriguez: “My Fitness is the Best it’s Been in a Long Time”

Ricco Rodriguez
Photo credit: Lee Whitehead. Courtesy of BAMMA.

Ricco Rodriguez meets Alex Nicholson on the inaugural CamSoda Legends card this Thursday for a heavyweight bout.

Rodriguez said he respects Nicholson’s talent as someone who is dangerous in the first round, durable and packs good takedown defense. However, Rodriguez added most fighters who lose to Nicholson tend to because they get tired. And he doesn’t think he’ll meet that fate due to the way the bout came together.

“I had more notice, it wasn’t last minute,” Rodriguez told MMASucka. “This has been a blessing in disguise because I’ve been able to focus and train. My fitness is the best it’s been in a long time.”

Rodriguez said most of his recent fights have come on short notice, which has been the cause of a rough patch. He recently snapped a four-fight losing streak with a win over Nandor Guelmino in January and wants to make it two in a row with Nicholson.

“Nicholson is a fighter who puts on a big show,” he said. “He does a great job of entertaining the crowd. I’m not taking him lightly at all. He’s a guy who can be very difficult to take down. He’s got an unorthodox style. That can cause some issues. A win over this guy would be great.”

Rodriguez already has a lot of big wins to his name. Andrei Arlovski, Randy Couture, Pete Williams and Jeff Monson to name a few. He’s the former UFC heavyweight champion to boot.

Nicholson has acknowledged Rodriguez as a legend of the sport, but has tweeted that he plans to retire him.

“If God forbid something ever happens to me and I can never fight again, I don’t know,” he said regarding whether he’d retire after his fight with ‘The Spartan.’ “Maybe [Nicholson’s] a fortune teller. I’ve been doing this for 80 fights, he has a total of 15. If Nicholson wants to pump the fight up, God bless him.”

Rodriguez’s Career Plans

Rodriguez said he has no intentions of retiring after his bout with Nicholson. In fact, Ricco “Suave,” an 81-fight veteran, would like at least 19 more bouts. Hitting 100 isn’t the only milestone he wants to achieve.

“My biggest thing is I want my record to look decent when I retire,” he said. “75-25. I’m not happy with how it looks right now at 54-25 (one no-contest).”

There’s more to it than that; Rodriguez simply loves fighting.

“People ask me why I keep fighting. I say, ‘Well, why do you go to work everyday?'”

Other than building a record he’d be happy to retire with, Rodriguez wants one last chance to show that he can compete in a major organization.

“I want to show there are a lot of guys out there who are competing at the same age,” he said and listed people like Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir. “I haven’t been given the opportunity because of some of the mistakes I made when I was younger. When you’re young, you make mistakes.”

Rodriguez, now 40, has had time to reflect. He said those learning lessons have made him a better fighter and person.

“I’ve trained my ass off for this,” he said. “Now that I’m older, I have a different mindset. I have that wisdom. I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve lived a very full life.”

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