Exclusive: Rory MacDonald & Mike Ricci Discuss The Ultimate Fighter & Ricci’s Future in the UFC
Mike Ricci has gone on record saying that the time he spent living in The Ultimate Fighter house was without a doubt the worst experience he has ever had to go through in his life. From dealing with all of the different personalities to not being able to contact his friends and loved ones, Ricci said there were a few occasions where he felt like he was going to snap.
The frustrations he felt while living in the house were used to fuel his passion and made him train harder to become the best fighter he could possibly be. Ricci refused to allow anything to distract him from his goal of winning the show and utilizing the opportunity he was given to improve the mental and physical aspects of his game.
Being that he did have to go through all of those experiences, Ricci knows that what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger. After all there were some positives about being on the show including the ability to face a new group of opponents who were much bigger than Ricci which forced him to compete as a welterweight on the show despite the fact he is a natural lightweight fighter.
“I think the biggest thing that helped my game from that show was the actual fighting,” Ricci told BJPenn.Com Radio. “First off I put myself under a different type of stress, I reached a whole new stress level being in the UFC and fighting opponents that were larger than me. Your brain is always going to register the threat in front of you and if it’s a 10-year-old kid you’re not going to feel very threatened, but if it’s an extremely large man it’s more threatening. I’ve gotten in the ring now with more threatening opponents and my brain has reached a whole new stress level that I have gotten used to because I’ve given up so much. I gave up my weight advantage; I gave up my height and my reach advantage.
So now coming back to the lightweight division and this is not taking anything away from that division, physically I’m gaining back a lot of the advantages I gave up. Fighting at 170lbs. gave me a whole new stress level and allowed me to fight with more aggression. I needed to get rid of the person that was standing in front of me because the longer he was there the more chance he had of hurting me and putting me away. Now I can come back to the lightweight division and I am used to fighting guys who were significantly stronger, I feel like that experience changed me the most and what I benefited the most from.”
After watching Ricci suffer on TUF and hearing the stories he went through and all of the turmoil he had to endure, Rory discussed how he would have handled being presented with an offer of entering the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter.
“I’m thrilled I didn’t have to go through it after all the stories Mike told me,” said a relieved MacDonald. “I feel terrible for him and from what he tells me he is still haunted by it! He’s driving in his car and all of the sudden he thinks he’s back at the house and he starts freaking out and getting the sweats again! I’m good on that house.”
MacDonald also was very quick to point out just how talented he feels Ricci is and how far he thinks he can make it in a very tough UFC lightweight division. The pair spends a lot of time together inside and outside of the gym and if anyone knows what Ricci is made of, it is certainly MacDonald.
“I think Mike has more than enough ability to be lightweight champion, if not one of the greatest,” MacDonald explained. “I think what Mike possesses is an extreme amount of natural talent. When he embraces everything and uses all the experiences he has gone through and is going to go through and really hits his stride I think the lightweight division is going to get absolutely massacred. He has a lot of exciting things ahead of him, unfortunately his last fight didn’t go his way, but that’s just fighting for you. You win some, you lose some, but the real fighters come back from it stronger and I know Mike is going to come back stronger. He’s going to be hunting down the 155lb division when he’s back.”