Two things you hear quite often from MMA fighters are that living in The Ultimate Fighter house is less than enjoyable and the training they receive at Tristar gym in Montreal is some of the best the sport has to offer. Season 16 TUF finalist Mike Ricci, has experienced both and he would tend to agree with the above, living in the TUF house sucks, training at Tristar does not.
Ricci had the following to say about his time in the TUF house, “I have been vocal about not enjoying the situation there and I really didn’t. I stand by that comment, I didn’t enjoy it one bit.”
That’s not to say that it was all bad for the 26-year-old fighter from Montreal, “I learned a lot more from the show than I expected. Coming from the camp that I come from with such high-level coaching and training partners I didn’t think that I would learn as much as I did, but I did learn quite a bit while I was there.”
Ricci will try to take what he learned while fighting for coach Shane Carwin during the filming of the show and add that knowledge to the strong base he’s gained from working with head trainer Firas Zihabi at Tristar. He will take that combined learning and to use it to secure a UFC contract by defeating Colton Smith, when the two TUF finalists meet on Saturday night inside the Octagon.
Filming of TUF may have wrapped up some time ago, but Ricci has not been idle, keeping himself busy by helping his Tristar teammates Georges St-Pierre and Rory MacDonald prepare for their recent bouts.
“I thought that coming home from The Ultimate Fighter, I’d have a bit if a break,” Ricci said. “But that wasn’t the case with Georges getting ready for (Carlos) Condit and Rory getting ready for (BJ) Penn, the gym was just jam-packed with fighters from all over the world, trainers from all over the world.”
Who will win season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter?
Training with such high-level partners as MacDonald does have its benefits according to Ricci, “It’s great being close with Rory, we’re able to sit back and discuss our opinions on training and what we should be doing and having guys like Georges and Firas to help us, we’re always being put on the right path as far as training goes.”
All that training at such a high level is nice, but when the cage door locks behind him, Ricci knows he will have a difficult battle in front of him when he stares across the Octagon at his opponent, “I don’t think Colton even lost a round; he’s definitely a good fighter, obviously I haven’t taken him lightly. I’ve been able to watch him fight and I know he’s a good fighter.”
Ricci’s fight against Smith will be contested at the welterweight limit of 170 pounds, a weight that Ricci doesn’t normally compete at. “When I left the house it was a decision I had to make, whether I was going to put on weight and gain a solid 15 or 20 pounds and stay in the welterweight division or keep my weight and go back down to 155. I decided I’m going to go back down to lightweight when this is over.”
With those words we learned that Ricci is going to fight at lightweight following his bout against Smith. What we don’t know is if that next fight will be in the UFC and if Ricci will be introduced as “winner of Season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter, Mike Ricci!” We’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out the answer to that question.
**all quotes obtained first hand