Brian: How have you been able to translate your NFL experience into a practical application for the sport of MMA?
Rex Richards: Being in the NFL, I have always been able to tackle someone, so I can get someone to the ground as fast as anyone in MMA. So that kind of served me as my wrestling base to start. I have been doing the big slams, the double leg, and the single leg. If I can tackle an all-star running back, I can tackle an MMA fighter.
Brian: You're one of the best success stories of a crossover star from the NFL to MMA. What has your athleticism meant for you in regard to that transition?
Rex: Athleticism and power translate great into any sport. I am not necessarily saying I have the most power and athleticism in MMA, but what I do have gives me an advantage over a lot of heavyweights out there to be explosive and knock people out. Also, to be flexible enough to do complicated submissions.
Brian: Do you think the trend of NFL stars making the transition to MMA is going to continue?
Rex: Absolutely, I think you’re going to see a lot of big, powerful athletes crossing over into MMA now that you can actually make a good living in the sport and now that it has evolved from more marginal to mainstream. Competing one-on-one can be so much more personable and gratifying when you win.
The sport of MMA has gone so far in the last 10 years. Give it 10 more years and it is going to be unbelievable. It’s going to be a bit scary seeing what types of fighters step into the cage in the future.
Brian: So, as the money increases in the sport, kids who would have grown up to be 300-pound linemen are going to consider MMA as their sport and then the sport will have access to some of the best athletes in the world?
Rex: An athlete is an athlete. All sports are hard, and the best athletes are willing to put in the time. And the best want to make $600,000 a year, not $60,000. Back to your point, when the money in MMA increases, and it is, the sky is the limit for the growth of this sport.
Some of the guys playing football now may not be too keen on taking their helmet off, though. They are probably used to protecting their pretty faces. Thankfully, I don’t have that problem!
Brian: On that note, do you think that the MMA fighter can be more marketable than an NFL star because they are more visible and seem more accessible to fans?
Rex: I think if you look at the MMA scene right now, it is already heading in that direction.
MMA fighters are built to be stars because they have to be a character, or have a good persona that really sells the fight. It’s the sports entertainment aspect of the sport. So, like the sport, the potential for MMA fighters to be big Hollywood stars is also unlimited.
Brian: We are all familiar with what went down in the TUF 7 house in regard to you being taken off the show. Tell us something positive about the experience and how it benefited you as both a fighter and a person.
Jesse: I got to fight four times and had four wins in six weeks on the show. That was huge. Also, they obviously had great coaching, which I really benefited from. I just become a better fighter overall and got to improve on all aspects of my MMA game.
As far as the trouble I got into, I just have taken it as a life lesson. Life is about what you learn from your mistakes and how you apply that in terms of growing as a person. Everything happens for a reason and so right now I am just working on getting my fight career back on track. I am willing to do what I have to to get back to the big show.
Brian: Tell us about your win over Drew Fickett. He has been in MMA for a while and is considered a great submission specialist. That had to be a big win for you.
Jesse: Yeah it was definitely a big win for me. To be honest, I beat him so fast, I don’t think that was the same Drew Fickett people are used to seeing. That being said, even in his prime I think I would have beaten him. Everything came together for me in that fight. I think that win really steered me in the right direction, got me back on the track I want, and now I am here fighting for Shark Fights.
Brian: At UFN 14, Silva vs. Irvin, you fought C.B. Dalloway in your UFC debut and came out on the losing end. If you were to come back to the UFC, would you like a rematch with C.B., and what about a fight with TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah?
Jesse: I would love to avenge my loss to Dalloway at 185 pounds. Amir has dropped to 170 and I would be more than happy to fight him there. I am able to go back and forth between both weight classes while maintaining my fight standards.
I think the fans of TUF 7 would love to see the three of us settle who the best fighter from the show is, post show. Style-wise, I match up very well against Amir, and if I had made it into the finals, I would have beaten him.
Can’t wait to hear what Don Frye and Rich Moss had to say? Well you won’t have to wait long. Check out tomorrow afternoon for unabridged interviews.