Following his victory over Tim Means at UFC Wichita on Saturday, Niko Price snuck into the medical area backstage to deliver a message to his opponent.
Wichita, Kansas — Niko Price came out of UFC Wichita $50,000 dollars richer. With the biggest win of his career against the gritty Tim Means, Price not only earned a Performance of the Night award — he became the first man knock Means out (discounting an injury TKO early in ‘The Dirty Bird’s’ career). The win was made even more impressive given Price had been in some dangerous spots in the fight. Rocked, slammed to the canvas, in danger.
Yet he held on, and turned the tables. After the bout, he told reporters including Cageside Press that he was “just praising God. So excited right now. Happy to be able to provide for my family for another couple years, and keep going.”
Price knew he was in for a battle right from the weigh-ins. Standing across from Means, he recalled that “he said, ‘alright, let’s go f*ck each other up.’ I was like ‘alright,’ I said ‘you know it’s coming.’ And then we almost fell off stage.” That elicited a laugh. “That’s why we stopped, and were like ‘oh sh*t—’ and he grabbed my arm. Because I almost literally almost stepped off the stage. Because Mick [Maynard] wasn’t ready for us to come at each other and start rubbing foreheads.”
If that doesn’t underline it, there was nothing personal about the fight. In fact, Price was excited for it. “I was like ‘I’m about to fight a guy with forty fights.’ Fifteen years? I told him after in the medic room, I snuck in there, I was like ‘yo you’re the reason I am who I am, because I’ve been watching you from the beginning. I wanted to be savage like you.’ But now I gotta be more savage than him, because I pretty much took his title.”
“I really want to pray for him, I want to pray for his leg to heal strong and stuff, because I never want to do that to someone,” he added. “But in this sport, we gotta do what we can do.”
That’s an impressive show of respect, and Means returned the sentiment. “We shook hands, we hugged, we shed a tear, it was a great fight. We went in there, we both put our hearts on the line. He dropped me a little bit, I dropped him a little bit, he dropped me again, and I finished him. It was fun, it was great, it was an awesome war!”
Price, however, is aware of the toll those wars can take. “I’m trying to start taking care of myself more,” he explained backstage in Wichita. “I’m not jumping in [on] nine day notices, I’m not doing that unless it’s worth it. Bring me something that’s worth it, and I’ll jump in. But if it’s not worth it, I need to recover.”
“I gotta watch my health man. I’m twenty-nine,” he observed, “I turn thirty this year. I gotta start watching that. And then I got four kids, and a beautiful wife, and I just can’t be grateful enough for Jesus.”
Part of watching his health, he told Cageside Press, is watching his weight. No more big cuts. “I’m going to stay around 185, I’m not going to get into the 90s, 95s, nowhere near the 2s anymore. I don’t need to be that big. I’m going to stay just healthy, efficient, just get in there and do my job.”
As for what comes next, there’s no more backwards movement, Price stated. “I’m looking to the top. I want that belt. I want Usman. He’s really cool. I’ll work my way to him, and I know that.”
“I’m not trying to say put me in there now. I’ve still got to get better,” Niko Price admitted. “He’s a great fighter, one day I would love to stand across the cage from him. Whether he has the belt or not.”
Watch the full UFC Wichita post-fight press scrum with Niko Price above!