PRO MMA exclusive interview: Rex Richards (part 1)

Rex Richards had a successful career playing professional football for the Indianapolis Colts. He was one of the large ones, a linebacker who weighed in at 350+ pounds. He was living many a young boy’s fantasy, however, he had dreams of being a fighter.

With a record of 7-1 he’s done very well for himself at super heavyweight but this pro athlete has his heart set on the big leagues. Rex Richards will not be satisfied until the cage door locks behind him as he enters the UFC’s Octagon and to make that happen he will have to get down to the 265 lbs. weight limit.

On February 20th, Rex will fight his final bout at super heavyweight and then it’s nose to the grindstone work to prepare for his first heavyweight bout. The UFC scouts already have their eye on him. They want to see him fight at least one fight at heavyweight. The plan is set, the gears are in motion, meet what could very well be the next BIG addition to the new era of UFC Heavyweights, Rex Richards.

PRO MMA: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Rex. How’s it going?
REX:  Right now I’m in a monster weight-cutting process so I’ve been pretty cranky and feel a little bit tired but I’m just excited to get down to heavyweight.

PRO MMA: I noticed your first professional fight was in 2005 and prior to that you had played college and pro football. How did you make that transition into MMA?
REX:  I’ve always been more of a fighter than a football player. I trained when I was a kid. You had you’re boxing and you had your traditional martial arts but none of it really stuck.  Once I saw MMA thought, I knew that was going to be a future home for me. Then when I was playing football I started taking jiu-jitsu and working on muay thai. I knew that once I was retured from football I was going to try and make MMA a full time career.

PRO MMA: When was the last football game you played in? Do you miss it?
REX:  It was in 2005. I miss the comradery. Once you’re on these teams you develop friendships for life. I talk to these guys all the time. I miss the eleven guys going out fighting as one and winning and that kind of atmosphere, but the whole time I was playing football I was dreaming of fighting. I was doing most people’s dream of playing in the NFL and the Arena Football League and college, but in the back of my mind I was dreaming about fighting.

PRO MMA: I know that you had practiced some martial arts growing up but what was you first exposure to mixed martial arts and professional MMA?
REX:  Well, my first exposure to it was watching UFC 1 with my dad on TV on pay-per-view and I was immediately drawn to it and I saw how effective jiu-jitsu was. You would see definitely not the most intimidating looking opponent go out there and beat these big monster looking guys you’d normally idolize as a fighter.  That really made me change the idea of the fighter I wanted to be eventually and really respect technique over pure athleticism, speed, and strength.

PRO MMA: I spoke with one of your old opponents, Shane Carwin, the other day who also comes from a football background and I meant to ask him this question but forgot. So I want to ask you, how does the training it takes to play football at the elite level compare to MMA training?
REX:  They are polar opposites. MMA to football might as well be bicycling to football. They’re completely different. I would say football training is a lot harder on your body, especially as a lineman practicing everyday, because all we do at practice is pretty much a game atmosphere all the time. Fighting, you’ve got to be in much better shape. I’ve been doing two hours of cardio a day so I can do this thing the right way. You know if I had done two hours of cardio a day in football they would have thought I was nuts. You’ve got to be as athletic and explosive and as aggressive as you can be for eight seconds maximum per play and then you get a break and that’s a big difference you know than having to go three five minute rounds or five five minute rounds.

PRO MMA: Now you were originally supposed to fight on the YAMMA Pit Fighting card weren’t you? What happened with that? What did you think about that event?
REX:  We were doing take-down’s that day and I had two 280-pounder guys fall on my the back of my legs and got a pretty good high ankle sprain. I was bummed about that because it was gonna be my first heavyweight where I had to make the big cut but with a high ankle sprain you might as well have just broke your leg especially as a big person. Most people don’t understand, a high ankle sprain is a pretty severe injury and takes a long time to recover from. I thought it was fine. I thought it was a unique style. I’ve always been interested in a tournament per se. I thought the announcer was kind of corky, he was kind of funny. But you know there were some great fighters in there. I respect every one of those guys that go out there . Travis Wiuff ended up winning it and a bunch of other guys in there that got after it. It was fun to watch, I had a good time. I like all fights. I respect every company. It takes a lot, I know this from first hand experience. I thought pressure was going out with your pads on and your team and millions of people are watching. That’s not pressure. Pressure is going in there, you hear that cage lock, there’s two guys in there and one person who’s supposed to have your best interest, the referee, and beating the hell out of each other. It takes a lot and whether you love fighters or hate fighters, It’s a very hard career choice to make.

PRO MMA: Who are some of the people who have influenced you or helped you the most with your MMA career?
REX:  Any heavyweight out there that’s good at both things, at striking and the ground. Because here in fifteen or twenty years when I’m done fighting or ever how long it lasts I want them to say, “That’s one of the greats. If you get him on the ground he’s gonna choke ya, slap an armbar on ya. If you stand up with him, he’s gonna knock you out.” Ya know, guys like Fedor, just big guys that are talented, that can move and they want to be athletest, they wanna fight like small guys but they’re monsters and they hit hard and their hips are flexible and they can pull off good stuff on the ground.

PRO MMA:  What is your age now?
REX: I’m twenty-eight.

PRO MMA: You have a fight coming up on February 20th, can you tell me about that?
REX: It’s a local show. I’ve always wanted to fight in front of my home crowd. A lot of my football players from college are only a couple hours away some I’m gonna have a huge crowd down there. I’m fighting a guy with a self-proclaimed 38-1 record. It doesn’t really matter, he’s just the next opponent on my list. And this will be the very last super heavyweight fight I do unless there’s some crazy opportunity at super heavyweight that comes up. My goal is to get in the UFC and there is no super heavyweights in the UFC. Heavyweight is the place to be and that’s where I want to go.

PRO MMA: So is there no weight limit on this fight?
REX: No, but I told them to put in my contract that I couldn’t weigh a pound over 280. I asked them to put that in there just so it’s guaranteed that I’m making the right cut. I’m losing so much weight. I haven’t trained this hard since I was training for the NFL. I’m actually training harder. I’m doing two hours of cardio a day. My diet is as clean as it gets and at night I’m training with my team, Gracie Barra.

You can view Rex Richards and Jeremy Henderson’s Gracie Barra Abilene website at www.graciebarraabilene.com or visit Rex at his myspace page at www.myspace.com/rexafl

Continue reading with PART 2 of our PRO MMA (promma.info) EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH REX RICHARDS.

By: Jack Bratcher

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