As with any successful professional, mixed martial artists eat, sleep and breathe their craft. They put everything on the line when they wake up, hit the gym and pour their blood, sweat and tears into the sport we all love. When they enter that cage, for the fan, it's all about the entertainment, but these athletes go through the daily rigors with more in mind. For some fighters, it's a paycheck. For others, it's the glitz and glamour, but for some it's a lifestyle fueled by a deep passion and connection to the sport of mixed martial arts.
In our newest site feature, MMAPlayground would like to introduce you to some of these men and women of MMA that you may not know much about.
Our mission? To introduce. To educate. To spread the word. UFC welterweight contender, Rich Attonito, is a seven year veteran of mixed martial arts. He’s best known for his stint on the eleventh season of the Ultimate Fighter. Attonito is coming off a successful welterweight debut against Daniel Roberts in June. He is currently scheduled to take on Claude Patrick at UFC 140. The Raging Bull took some time to answer some questions for us.
* * * * *MMAPG:
First of all, thanks so much for taking time to answer some questions, Rich! I’m sure you have to be one busy man. I know it’s late, but congratulations on your victory over Daniel Roberts back in June. That marked your welterweight debut? What was your motivation to drop down, and how comfortable are you feeling at 170 lbs?ATTONITO:
Thanks, I still appreciate the congratulations. That was my first fight at welterweight and I felt great. It's the weight class I should be competing in. When I was fighting at middleweight I felt short and undersized compared to most of the guys in the division, so that's why I decided to drop down.MMAPG:
So you’re scheduled to take on Claude Patrick in December. How are you feeling right now?ATTONITO:
I feel good. After my last fight I only took a short rest and then was back in the gym working on getting better. I've had a lot of time to develop and improve my skills since a few months ago.MMAPG:
How do you feel about having to fight Claude in his hometown of Toronto, of all places? Is that something you think makes a big difference?ATTONITO:
It doesn't really make a difference to me who I fight and where I fight them. It's just him and I in the cage, that's all I need to concern myself with, everything else is secondary. I will say that being in his hometown I know I have to win the fight decisively, you can never leave anything up to those screwy judges. So I’m gonna do everything in my power to avoid letting them have anything to say about the outcome.MMAPG:
How is your training camp going so far? Are you adding anything new that you can share with us? ATTONITO:
My life is a training camp, one big never ending training camp, I’m always training and working on improving myself as an athlete. I'm fortunate I get to do what I love. Everything is good, in recent months we've gotten a bunch of new talented guys at the gym and it’s been great to get some different looks from new training partners to help me develop some aspects of my game.MMAPG:
Do you have a prediction for the fight?ATTONITO:
I leave the predictions to the gypsies with the crystal balls. I will tell you this, I’m not taking a trip from Florida up to Toronto in December just to feel some cold weather. MMAPG:
Would you mind, for our readers, shedding a little light on your background and your road to a career in mixed martial arts?ATTONITO:
I was born and raised in New Jersey. I grew up playing football, and started wrestling in High school. I continued wrestling when I went to college at Hofstra University. After graduating I started training some BJJ and was encouraged by a lot of peers to try my hand at MMA. So I started boxing and took my first fight in February of 2004. After that I became more and more intrigued with the sport and wanted to continue competing in it. MMAPG:
You gained a lot of notoriety during your stint on the Ultimate Fighter. What positives did you take away from your time on the show? Was it a good experience for you?ATTONITO:
It's been a great experience for me. A lot of positive things have come from being involved with the show and it created the opportunity for me to fight in the UFC, which was a major goal of mine since I began fighting. MMAPG:
On the flip side, were there any negatives during your time on the Ultimate Fighter?ATTONITO:
That would definitely be when I broke my hand. I lost my shot at winning the show and all of the rewards that come with accomplishing that. But I made the most of it and have turned it into a positive experience.MMAPG:
Let’s be honest here for a second. You would have won the show if you hadn’t broken your hand, right?ATTONITO:
I feel like I had a very good shot at winning the show, no doubt about it. But there were still some very tough motivated guys I would've had to beat to get there. I'm not gonna disrespect any of the guys who worked hard to get where they did, nor minimize any of the things those guys were able to achieve by sitting back and saying I'd definitely win if I didn't break my hand.MMAPG:
So you’re training at American Top Team, right? How’s that experience been for you? Who are you primary training partners there?ATTONITO:
The list of training partners is too long, you gotta go to ATT's website and look at the list of guys we have over here. As far as training at ATT, it’s been an unbelievable experience for me. It’s almost six years ago now that I packed my car up and drove down from Jersey to Coconut Creek, it’s transformed so many aspects of my life and I’m forever grateful. The success I’ve had is a direct result of the time and effort my coaches, teammates, and I, have put in through the years. The hard work is definitely been paying off.MMAPG:
If you wouldn’t mind, run our readers through what a day in the life of Rich Attonito is like during training camp.ATTONITO:
I train twice a day, morning and night. I do a lot of specific drills and technique mixed with live training and sparring. There is always a conditioning component involved in my training as well. I usually have a private client or two that I train at some point during the day. I also teach the MMA night class at ATT. Other than that I focus on my nutrition and getting proper rest throughout the day.MMAPG:
If weight wasn’t an issue, and you had the option to fight any fighter, in any weight class, from any period of MMA history, whom would it be? Why?ATTONITO:
Art Jimmerson just came to mind. Something seems appealing about beating up a guy wearing one boxing glove. Or maybe Emmanuel Yarborough, could you imagine taking on a guy that size?! I'd have to learn the art of the Tiger Palm from Keith Hackney.MMAPG:
A good bit of fighters have gone on record, saying that they don’t watch a whole lot of MMA in their free time. Do you watch much? If so, who are you favorite fighters to watch?ATTONITO:
I've always loved fighting so I like to catch the fights when I can. I really enjoy watching my teammates fight, it's a chance to see them do their thing after all the hard work they put in at the gym.MMAPG:
Who or what has been your biggest influence in life and in your career?ATTONITO:
My family has definitely been the biggest influence in my life.MMAPG:
One last question, I swear, and we’ll let you get back to doing your thing. Where do you see yourself in the next year or two? Where will we be seeing Rich Attonito?ATTONITO:
I'll be fighting in the UFC. I see myself becoming a main card fighter and someone to watch for, so I guess you'll be seeing me on TV!MMAPG:
Again, thanks so much for taking time to answer questions, Rich! Also good luck against Claude in Toronto!
* * * * *Follow @RichAttonito on TwitterRich “The Raging Bull” Attonito on Sherdog.com DISCLAIMER: Views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewer and interviewee and are not necessarily those of the staff or affiliates of MMAPlayground.com.