Bellator 200’s David Rickels: The Caveman Heads Overseas, Feeling Like Rocky Facing Drago

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Bellator 200's David Rickels
David 'Caveman' Rickels Credit: Bellator MMA

The Caveman is about to take his act overseas for the very first time, as David Rickels meets Michael ‘Venom’ Page at Bellator 200 in London this Friday.

Bellator 200 is a milestone not just for the promotion, but for David Rickels as well. The former lightweight title challenger and current welterweight has become one of the faces of the promotion, known for his creative walkouts and exciting style in the cage. Competing with Bellator since 2011 at Bellator 40, it’s been a long, entertaining journey for Caveman Rickels — and he’s thrilled to be part of the big show in London.

“It’s huge, because I feel like not only have I been around for a long time, but I’ve been winning, I’ve been kicking ass, I’ve been fighting, taking fights, I’ve never turned down a fight from Bellator,” he told Cageside Press ahead of the big night. “It just feels like a respect thing. I feel like they’re showing me the love I deserve.”

When the Caveman ponders who else in the company is as recognizable as himself as a Bellator “original,” two names come to mind: Michael Chandler and Pitbull. Of course, neither of those have the killer walkouts Rickels has become known for over the years. And fans might just get to see something special in London.

“I’m always having fun. I’m going to do a little somethin’ somethin’,” he said of the possibility. “It’s really just having fun on my way out there. I love to entertain and have a good time. That’s the whole experience, that’s not just in there when I’m fighting.”

That showman side shines through on his social media as well. ‘Caveman’ recently posted a little Indiana Jones-themed parody featuring himself tearing the heart from opponent MVP. Also included was Dillon Danis, in a bit of a cameo. Asked if that was a bout he had any interest in (after a few more tune-up fights for Danis), Rickels said that “he needs about twenty-two tune-up fights before he gets to some real O.G.’s. But yeah, I’d love to fight that dude. For real, they need to give him the right fights for a little bit, but once he makes a little bit of a name for himself, lets go.”

“I feel like I’m taking on Drago in Russia right now. It’s just exciting, it’s fun.”

“I’ve already beat up one world champion in jiu-jitsu, why not make it two?” he added.

Surprisingly, Bellator 200 will mark David Rickels first time fighting outside of the U.S. It’s a prospect he’s excited for, frankly. “When I was a little kid thinking about fighting and being a fighter, I wanted to be like Rocky,” he told us. “I feel like I’m taking on Drago in Russia right now. It’s just exciting, it’s fun. This is why I’m in this game, it’s for the excitement, and the enjoyment, the fulfillment of doing things that are hard.”

Fighting abroad is something “that was always the picture for me,” Rickels said, and it’s something he’d like to do more of. After all, he did plenty of traveling for fights within the U.S. “We used to brand ourselves the road warriors,” he recalled. “I used to travel everywhere, because Kansas didn’t have this huge fight circuit, so I’d travel everywhere to get fights. We went all over the place. Even when I was fighting early for Bellator, I flew everywhere, because we didn’t have no home fights. So it’s good to be back on the road.”

It’s also good not to have to worry about cutting weight as much. The MVP fight is at welterweight, and Rickels sounds done with 155lbs. The entire weight cutting game is an oddity to the Kansas native, who explained that “I feel like we train like professionals, and then we eat like amateurs. We don’t fulfill our bodies, we don’t give them the nutrients and everything they need to go into these fights, a lot of times when we’re cutting extreme weight.”

“Whatever it is about ’55, it just wasn’t working for my body,” Rickels continued. “I fought the first part of my career at ’70, so it’s just kind of a return back to that healthy weight class.” Caveman, however, would not be adverse to fighting at 165lbs, if such a division existed. For now, however, it’s welterweight.

And the good news is, no more food safe. It’s something Rickels unveiled to Cageside Press last we spoke. “I don’t have to do that no more, it’s glorious!” Rickels exclaimed with a laugh. “I can go to bed fulfilled and happy and not have to worry about waking up all night, eating peanut butter, creeping through the house trying to pretend I’m not eating food.”

So expect a properly fueled Caveman to hit the cage on Friday when he attempts to derail the MVP hype train. Which is an opportunity that attracted him to the bout. “It definitely did, Rickels answered when asked if that was a draw. “I’ve been watching him for a while. I was watching him a little bit when everybody wasn’t.”

“I’ve always seen the holes,” Rickels said of his opponent’s game. “I’ve seen the holes that I feel like I’m going to capitalize on.”

“There’s no doubt that he’s dangerous, but s***, so am I,” he added. “I feel like he tries to scare everybody. I feel that’s what he’s done in the past. People believe his hype before the fight’s even there. They start to worry about the karate s***. I’m not even worried about it.”

“I don’t want to try to become something I’m not, just because I’m fighting Michael Page. F*** no, I’m going to fight the same way I always fight.”

Page’s flashy style is not something Rickels was able to have anyone replicate in training, but he’s not sweating that. “Just fight the person in front of you. Just fight him,” he said. “Don’t watch the show. That’s what a lot of these guys have done in the past. They’re watching the show, they’re watching it unfold. He’s presenting this show with the dance moves and this and that. That’s what they’re watching. They’re not worried about them fighting.”

And forget about Rickels trying to take this one to the ground, one of the big question marks in Page’s game. “Ultimately I am not a wrestler. I don’t want to start doing some s*** that I’ve never done before,” he said. “I’d love to see how many times I’ve shot any kind of wrestling, like a single or a double or anything in my Bellator career. Because it really is minimal, and I would say zero is my guess.”

“I don’t want to try to become something I’m not, just because I’m fighting Michael Page,” Rickels added. “F*** no, I’m going to fight the same way I always fight.”

As for any ring rust on his opponent’s side, given Page has been out of action for a stretch, minus a boxing match, Rickels was hesitant. “I think ring rust is a mental thing, really.”

“So we’ll see. We’ll see where he’s at. That’s the greatest thing, that’s what I love about this game.”

“We can say whatever the hell we want on these interviews, but we’re going to find out,” he finished. “That’s the great part about it. We’ll know when we’re in there.”

Don’t miss David ‘Caveman’ Rickels taking on Michael Page at Bellator 200, this Friday, May 25 at the SSE Arena in London, England. The bout goes down on the main card, which airs free on the Paramount Network starting at 9PM EST.

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