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Ex-UFC Champ Ricco Rodriguez Hoping for Return at Light Heavyweight

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Everyone deserves a second chance in life, and Ricco Rodriguez is hoping for his own follow-up shot at the bigtime.

In 2002, Rodriguez was on top of the MMA world when he defeated Randy Couture to become the UFC heavyweight champion. At the time, he was just 25 years old and seemed to have the world in front of him. Three fights and three losses later, Rodriguez was out of the UFC and his life began to spiral out of control, but now there's hope that Rodriguez is turning things around and working towards redemption.

Last night in Waterloo, Iowa, the now 32-year-old Rodriguez knocked out veteran journeyman Travis Fulton, earning his sixth straight win.

Before the fight, Rodriguez, who at one time weighed over 300 pounds and has fought at heavyweight for years, told The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier that he had plans on changing his weight class.

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Post #1   5/3/10 9:04:48AM   

warglory

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I'll never forget the man's fight with Nogueira which I think was the pinnacle of his career, it just sucks it was also the biggest screwjob in MMA history (IMO).

Post #2   5/3/10 3:23:14PM   

DosBox

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Not sure if LHW would be his ideal weight class. It is good to see him in shape, and was quick and athletic compared to the natural HW standard at the time of his tenure at the UFC.

A reason he was as successful as he was was due in part that he was pretty quick for a HW, and was able to capitalize on it. That quickness advantage he had as a heavyweight doesnt translate to the LHW division, which is a much more athletic division in comparison to the HW.

Brandon Vera was a very quick HW, and moving down to LHW division eliminated the advantages he once had in the HW division in being quicker/athletic.

Good natural athletic heavyweights are still tough to find in MMA. Travis Wiuff, Jeff Monson, and Pe De Pano are still considered decent heavyweights, and some consider to be viable mid-level UFC talent.. yet they have both competed in the 205 division, and any athletic advantage they have ever had in the HW division is completely erased when they competed in the 205 division because the LHW are comprised of better athletes - which is why they struggled in the 205 division.

Ricco Rodriguez is better of fighting at HW regardless if he can cut to 205 because he would be more competitive in that weight class.

James McSweeney is a guy a lot of people think should cut to 205lbs, because he is too small. He is a quick HW, and though he might not get out muscled at 205, he really isnt going to have an athletic/quickness advantage against the majority of the 205 lb division like he would the HW division. Which means he is trading off what he is good at in relation to the HW division (speed advantage) and trading it to have something he is "less bad" at (getting muscled around).


In summarize, a fairly quick and athletic Heavyweights dropping to 205 will not retain its quickness and athletic advantages against mixed martial artists in the 205 lb division - because that division is richer in quicker and more athletic talent (in relation to HW talent). Ricco is a natural (athletic) HW, and natural HW's (at this time in MMA) are better suited in competing at the HW division.


--- Edit: Although I will say that it is good to see Ricco at a much healthier weight (he had competed and ballooned up at 310+lbs).

Last edited 5/3/10 3:36PM server time by dosbox
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Post #3   5/3/10 3:23:22PM   

BlueSkiesBurn

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Ricco has always been a favorite of mine and I hope that this second run works out for him. I just hope he has sorted out his personal issues and turn himself into a viable contender.

Post #4   5/3/10 4:40:38PM   

Sir_Karl

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I like Ricco and even through thick and thin he has always been a great fighter. He has only been finished 2 times. He was finished by a ko from Sylvia back in 2003 and a ko from Bobby Hoffman back in 99. Ricco has fought over 30 times since the ko loss to Sylvia. He hasn't been finished since and he has never been submitted. His losses are always by decision. That is the problem though. Even if Ricco gets down to 205 (which I think would be great if he has no weight cutting issues) I don't think he will be able to finish anyone in the UFC. He will lose his fights by decision. I don't think he can do much in the UFC...in either division HW or LHW. He does have a great ground game but I am not sure he could submit any of the contenders in either division. In fact I think a few of the HWs like Velasquez, Carwin or dos Santos may put his lights out. I think Ricco knows that though...thus the "I want to get down to 205" deal. I think Ricco is looking for another shot at the UFC and he knows the HW division would probably thump him. He would have an easier time at 205 in the UFC. I would love to see it...but like I said...I don't think he would get too far in either weight division.

Post #5   5/3/10 4:59:46PM   

BlueSkiesBurn

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I think he stands a better shot at 205 than he does at 225+. As you've already stated the HW division is absurd right now. The size and speed of those heavyweights is absolutely ridiculous. I think that athletes like JDS, Brock, Carwin and Velasquez are going to be the norm for HW from here on out. We are in an age of sports where large athletes have a ridiculous amount of speed and strength to accompany their size. Ricco could makes some waves at 205. Let's see how he does in his next couple of fights.

Post #6   5/3/10 5:19:15PM   

DosBox

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Posted by BlueSkiesBurn

I think he stands a better shot at 205 than he does at 225+. The size and speed of those heavyweights is absolutely ridiculous.



The speed of 205lb fighters is far greater than the speed of the elite 265'ers, Ricco would even be more disadvantageous in this respect when faced against a 205er than he would a HW fighter. Heck, he looked like a sloth against Moise Rimbon who probably should have won the fight against Ricco a little less than a year ago.. which is a fight in which Ricco gassed terribly in the 3rd round even though they were 3 minute rounds.
I'd take the lower level UFC LHW fighters like Jared Hamman to defeat Ricco.. but I would take Ricco over a lower level UFC HW fighter like Russow. UFC LHW's still have more skill top/bottom, more athletic top/bottom, and better gas tanks top/bottom then the UFC HW division has.



I think that athletes like JDS, Brock, Carwin and Velasquez are going to be the norm for HW from here on out.


Would somewhat agree, but at this specific point you still have guys like Beltran, Russow, Madsen, Mitrione, Tuchsherer, etc that actually still able to win fights in the UFC heavyweight division even though they are incredibly one-dimensional (and for the most part not even incredibly proficient in their dimension).



We are in an age of sports where large athletes have a ridiculous amount of speed and strength to accompany their size. Ricco could makes some waves at 205. Let's see how he does in his next couple of fights.



Right now other than Brock, there really isnt MMA heavyweights that have the speed and strength to accompany their size, or even if they do.. they do not have the gas tanks to match it.
Velasquez usually hovers around 235-240.. as does JDS, Carwin I wouldnt really consider him to have speed unless its solely in relation to the HW division.


I dont think Ricco does anything at either 205 or 265 in the UFC, but I think he could hang longer at HW division then he could at 205, his natural athleticism/speed is superior when compared lower UFC guy like Mike Russow, Joey Beltran. His athleticism when compared to the 205lb division tells a different story. Being too slow to even initiate a clinch against Moise Rimbon and having to resort to butt-flopping and pointing his opponent to jump in his guard isnt going to work even against the lower UFC level in the LHW division.

Heck, UFC just signed Rob Broughton, Ricco happened to be more competitive against the likes of Rob Broughton and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva a guy who is probably considered close to a top 20ish HW, then he did against a top 50-60 at best Moise Rimbon.





Post #7   5/3/10 6:14:38PM   

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I am aware that he will lose his edge at 205. I am not saying he won't. He needs to work on the cardio aspect of his game in that regard. He's honestly stuck in the middle of a rock and a hard place. He definitely won't be a title contender at 225-265 and it's doubtful that he will be one at 205. However, I think there are more winnable fights for him at 205 then there are at HW.

I am also aware that the HW fighters you mentioned are able to win even though they are one-dimensional fighters but I don't think that they will ever be top-tier competition. What I meant by the four athletes that I mentioned is that in the up-coming years you will see more and more sizable athletes with a tremendous amount of speed and power. I'm thinking more in to the future than I am the immediate present.

We don't know much about Carwin, Velasquez or Dos Santos' gas tank as out of a combined 32 professional fights between those three only 4 of them have gone past the 1st. JDS had one go 3, Cain had one go 3 and 2 go 2. Shane has amazing speed behind his hands for a HW. More importantly, I was referring to all professional athletes when I made this comment. Even when you look at D-Linemen and LB's in the NFL they are larger, quicker, and more powerful than they ever have been. All of my comments were more future generalities than they were specific to MMA or the immediate present. I hope that clears some things up.

Post #8   5/3/10 6:31:52PM   

DosBox

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Posted by BlueSkiesBurn

I am aware that he will lose his edge at 205. I am not saying he won't. He needs to work on the cardio aspect of his game in that regard. He's honestly stuck in the middle of a rock and a hard place. He definitely won't be a title contender at 225-265 and it's doubtful that he will be one at 205. However, I think there are more winnable fights for him at 205 then there are at HW.



I agree that he is stuck between a rock in a hard place for sure.
Which winnable fights are there in the LHW division compared to the HW division? Rodriguez put up a close decision loss against 'Bigfoot' Silva, defeated Rob Broughton, would probably defeat Joey Beltran, Russow, Antoni Hardonk, Kimbo, and have somewhat competitive fights against Struve, and possibly Nelson.

Nothing tells me that he is even capable of taking down guys like Gustaffson, Hamman, or Brian Stann anymore - which are maybe top 50 LHW.



I am also aware that the HW fighters you mentioned are able to win even though they are one-dimensional fighters but I don't think that they will ever be top-tier competition. What I meant by the four athletes that I mentioned is that in the up-coming years you will see more and more sizable athletes with a tremendous amount of speed and power. I'm thinking more in to the future than I am the immediate present.



Absolutely agree, but present day those guys are still getting wins in the Octagon, and Ricco Rodriguez is 33 years old, he really isnt going to be competing at a quality level 4-5 years from now, he could still snag wins against top 30 HW's then he would against top 50-60 LHW's.




We don't know much about Carwin, Velasquez or Dos Santos' gas tank as out of a combined 32 professional fights between those three only 4 of them have gone past the 1st. JDS had one go 3, Cain had one go 3 and 2 go 2. Shane has amazing speed behind his hands for a HW. More importantly, I was referring to all professional athletes when I made this comment. Even when you look at D-Linemen and LB's in the NFL they are larger, quicker, and more powerful than they ever have been. All of my comments were more future generalities than they were specific to MMA or the immediate present. I hope that clears some things up.


Ok gotcha, and I would agree. More athletic people are getting into the sport.. and 4-5 years into the future we will most likely have even better athletes competing in the HW division. I dont see Ricco competing at the UFC level 4-5 years from now, and was only basing Ricco's performance on what he is going to be able to in the immediate future (1-2 years from now), which is why I think he would be far more competitive in the HW division then he would in the LHW division. But although I think this is moot considering our consensus is that Ricco really wont do anything in either division.
Although I will say I would gladly prefer a 205lb Ricco Rodriguez then a 350lb + Ricco Rodriguez competing in MMA anytime.

Post #9   5/3/10 6:47:32PM   

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I think we both are saying the same thing. I don't think he will do well at either division, as well. I want him to succeed but I don't see it happening. He lost his good years and I agree, at 33, he's fixing his life way to late in the MMA game. I was actually think the tomato cans of the LHW division would give him more wins. He could get some wins against Mitrione, Slice, probably Yvel and Struve but I think Nelson would beat him pretty handily.

for the conversation, though.

Post #10   5/3/10 6:57:17PM   

prozacnation1978

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i dont see the ufc siging him just yet but maybe another win or so at light heavy
i am glad he got his life around and is competing again

Post #11   5/3/10 10:38:18PM   

lohmann

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If nobody's seen it, Ricco Rodriguez has an early contender for KO of the year over Travis Fulton from a few days ago.

Other than that, Rodriguez is well past his prime, and would be generally overmatched against elite fighters at either LHW or HW.

Post #12   5/3/10 11:58:26PM   

sbulldavid

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Ricco is a decent fighter capable of testing the middle tier at 205 and he's well known and respected with the hardcore fans. In shape he's a very serviceable fighter and much more legitimate than Coleman or Tito at this point. You could put together some decent fights and not be embarrassed.

Post #13   5/4/10 12:00:01AM   

runningman08

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I always like ricco as a fighter but i dont know if he is ready for LHW. I think he would have some cardio issues when its time to fight.

Post #14   5/4/10 2:00:27AM   

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Posted by sbulldavid

Ricco is a decent fighter capable of testing the middle tier at 205 and he's well known and respected with the hardcore fans. In shape he's a very serviceable fighter and much more legitimate than Coleman or Tito at this point. You could put together some decent fights and not be embarrassed.



Dos Box and I were discussing this as well. But by doing that you're essentially making Ricco a step above a jobber or can. I don't think he should sign with the UFC again.

Post #15   5/4/10 2:49:47AM