Interview with Mr Suave, Ricco Rodriguez
Carl Fisher : Ricco, I bet it feels like five minutes since you were last here?
Ricco Rodriguez : Yeah your right it does - this is probably my third home at the moment: Japan I would say is my first right now, followed by the States and here in Abu Dhabi.
Looking forward to the tournament?
Ricco Rodriguez : Yes I am, its a whole new event and there are so many different people here, that you dont know what to expect, everyone here is a champion at something and a complete fighter, so the results could go any way.
Who have you trained with in preparation for the tournament Ricco?
Ricco Rodriguez : I was actually injured recently, torn my knee ligaments a little, so I had three weeks off prior to the event, so prior to that I had been training with Rigan Machado and Mark Kerr in Los Angeles. They are two completely different types of grapplers you know; Mark Kerr is a complete specimen as far as takedowns go and believe it or not, he has submissions; he has been training with me for two and half three years and he has been picking up all the techniques I have shown him and he can take them to anew level. Rigan Machados biggest thing is whether or not he is in shape; if he is, then no one can touch him. When he is on top all I can do is wait for him to make a mistake then I can scram out, I dont even fight him.
Are you still with the Machados?
Ricco Rodriguez : Oh yes, I am still dedicated to them, and as you can see I still work out with them and still have a good relationship with them. I sat down with both Rigan and Jean Jacques and I explained to them what I wanted to do and become in life and that was to become an NHB fighter and they gave me their approval and said to go and train with the people that will help you achieve this. I then received a proposal from the Japanese and they asked me to live there and I accepted, and after Abu Dhabi I will be going back to Japan to live there for two years.
Who was your last opponent in Pride?
Ricco Rodriguez : It was one of my old training partners John Marsh who had trained with Rickson and Royce and has fought studs like Jeremy Horn and is a very tough fighter and I got a unanimous decision against him. It was a very difficult fight as he was a personal friend but I did a great job and I came out on top.
What was it like to fight Ochai Ricco?
Ricco Rodriguez : It was a very difficult one as it was a last minute fight as I was expected to fight Mark Coleman and that fell through, but I was still training and when I fought Ochai I went in there and did my game and I am one of those fighters you like to watch to fight whether you like me or hate me, because I try things; I go for knee bars and arm bars and I try wild things, and I feel that a lot of the fighters today are so afraid of losing that they dont want to do anything so I like to go in there and give it 100%.
What do you think of Sakuraba?
Ricco Rodriguez : I think hes just a great human being; he goes out there not for the glory but because he wants to, he wants to perform for the audience. He has a big heart and has fought against the worlds best and if you watch him you can see he is just a class act. Hes very respectful and respects everyone and thats what I like about him. The Machados and the Sakurabas have similarities in reference to their appearance and the way they carry themselves and through my cross training with people I have learned a lot from these guys.
How do you handle all the fame and pressure these days Ricco?
Ricco Rodriguez : One thing I learned is that you dont fight to lose - I was the guy here three years ago trying to beat the top name fighters to get the recognition and today fighters are coming after me for the same and I have no problems with that. I have fought three times in Pride, three times in Abu Dhabi, so I have done a lot of work and have come very far; I have only been doing ju jitsu for two and a half years.
When do you think youll hit your prime?
Ricco Rodriguez : I think Ill hit it very early as I started very young I was a world champion at nineteen years old and the Worlds in Brazil, so I would like to retire at 27 or 28. I am 23 right now and have a beautiful daughter, who is three and a half, and I am also travelling the world and enjoying a beautiful lifestyle and thats why Im excited to do what I am doing.
Are you still after a re match with Bobby Hoffman?
Ricco Rodriguez : Yeah, there was some talk about a rematch with him and the UFC, but Bobby had just tested positive for drug use, so hes out for 180 days, so the re match will be some time this summer or October, so we will have to see what happens. I fought him at the beginning of my career when I was a pure grappler and I feel I have now evolved into a better NHB fighter.
What have been your high and low points Ricco?
Ricco Rodriguez : My highs are that I am very young and ambitious and the low points are that you can burn out very quick if you dont take your career very serious and you have to watch your injuries otherwise that can put you out at a very early age.
How do you stay focused?
Ricco Rodriguez : I dont treat this as a job, I treat it as a lifestyle; other people get up and go to a job they are not sure of and do not like and I have done that. I am one of those guys who definitely has ADD; I cant sit still for five minutes, I have to go there, do this so I just enjoy it and being the centre of attention and putting on a good show for the fans. I have learnt that you cannot become a champion overnight - you dont get your window of opportunity like you think you will; it takes time to become a champion and it takes time to succeed in life and become the person you want to be; I had to accept a lot of responsibility at a young age and I had to grow up fast.
Do you think Europe will see Ricco Rodriguez?
Ricco Rodriguez : You know I would love to go anywhere in Europe, but I am pretty much dedicated to Pride right now and I want to stay at the top right now especially living in Japan right now. I am very excited that the European fans are there and are growing - I am glad they know about the fighters and that they keep on watching the pay per view events and read the papers and help the sport overall; keep giving the sport a good name.
Thank you Ricco
Ricco Rodriguez : A pleasure to meet you again Carl, take care.
Carl Fisher - "The European voice of MMA News "
posted 26 April 2001
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