UFC 112: Gather Around and I Will Tell You a Story... Rick Story, That Is
Currently on a two-fight win streak, Story comes into Saturday's event with the momentum to beat down his British opponent like it was the Revolutionary War all over again.
Apart from the military history parallels, Story will bring a great deal of excitement to a stacked UFC 112 undercard and will push to make himself a force to be reckoned with at 170 pounds.
Story's opponent is an alumni of the successful Spike TV show The Ultimate Fighter . Since it's one of the most unique names in the fight game, one can't help but ask Rick if he knows how to pronounce his opponent's last name.
"Before I started studying his film, I had no idea how to pronounce it," Story said. "Everyone would ask me who I was fighting and I was like, 'Nick Oz-pi-chick-check.'"
Checka, checka, one, two… okay, I’ll stop.
Rick eventually pronounced the name correctly, but it was more interesting to for us to talk about the different ways to mess it up.
Anyhow, this will be the first time Story makes his way out to the Middle East, but he hopes his previous trek to UFC 99 will help him for his fight this weekend.
"It’s not going to be quite the same as Cologne, Germany, UFC 99, my first fight, because I have a little bit more experience now," Story said. "There isn't going to be quite the shocker; I mean, it's going to be pretty cool going over to Abu Dhabi."
The Washington state resident is excited for the chance to fight overseas in what is one of the most impactful cards in the sport's history.
The excitement is so grand that one might look at the trip to the Middle East as a vacation. Even the most focused of athletes can get caught up in the wonder of one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Story, however, knows what he's going to Abu Dhabi for.
"I don’t want to think of it as a vacation or a working vacation, but it's going to be pretty nice," the welterweight contender said. "I’m sure it'll probably be pretty relaxing, but still I’m going over there to do work."
Fighting in a different time zone when you're in the U.S. might take its toll, but Abu Dhabi's time difference is night and day… literally.
It takes a toll on physical and mental endurance when the body is forced to react at a time it usually rests.
Rick hopes that his previous experience will serve him well.
"The jet lag and the travel, it's going to take its toll, but this time, after experiencing what I did in Cologne, it's going to be a little bit different," he said. "I’m going to have to try and shake the jet lag soon as possible and acclimate to the temperature over there."
Will fighting in the outdoor setting be too much for the Brave Legionnaire?
"I actually fought outside a couple times in my amateur fights," Story said. "It’s a little bit different. It’s not bad just as long as the sun's not in my eyes and it's not way too hot… 6 o’clock in the evening it'll be up in the 90s, I’m sure. I’m definitely not used to fighting in that hot of temperature."
Apart from the temperature being as hot as it is, it would be a damn shame to suffer a sunburn just before a fight, don’t you think?
"Oh, yeah that's horrible. That’s no fun at all," Story chuckled.
So many competitors on The Ultimate Fighter have been criticized for being in front of the camera more for image than skill.
During his Ultimate Fighter appearance, Osipczak definitely showed some promise with a second-round head-kick KO of Mark Miller.
Ultimately losing to DaMarques Johnson in the semifinal round, Osipczak was still granted a contract with the UFC and now competes to earn a main card spot on upcoming UFC cards.
And how might Story feel about his opponent's 5-0 record and quality of competition thus far?
"His first fight on the finale against Frank Lester, I don't really hold Frank Lester, in that point in his career, that quality of an opponent, but I’m sure he's been training and gotten a lot better since then," Story said. "What I have noticed is that Osipczak is progressing as a fighter…
"Then again, you can look tough against a person who isn't that high a caliber, you know. Fighters' styles make fights, and you find the right style that can contradict one, then you can make a good fighter look really bad."
Some may know a little bit about Osipczak's past as a professional gambler.
The practice isn’t allowed by the UFC, but imagine if fighters bet on their own fights, on some Pete Rose-level nonsense.
"I don’t know, but what I do know is that the UFC kind of frowns upon that," Story chuckled. "Of course I’m going to say he's placing the wrong bet."
When asked if the smart money would go on Story, the confident 170-pounder said, "Yeah, of course!"
As confident as he may be, Story gives a lot of credit for where he is today to his camp and training partners at Brave Legion.
Training partner to fellow UFC welterweight Mike Pierce , Story is grateful to have such a great support system.
"If I didn’t have Mike and Pat [White] here pushing me to my limits every single practice, every single day, you know, I wouldn't have gotten as far as I have in such a short period of time," Story said. "I’m so thankful for them to be here and have my back for these types of fights."
Speaking of teams, the subject of teammates fighting teammates has been quite the heated debate of late.
Jon Fitch of American Kickboxing Academy, for example, has vowed never to fight his teammate and friend Josh Koscheck, despite strong opposition from UFC president Dana White.
Story, however, appears to agree with Dana on this one.
"I don’t have a problem… no," Story said about fighting Pierce. "If you’re going to sit in the back seat to your teammate and let him be world champion for an entire career, then, what are you waiting for?"
Talk about an awkward silence in the locker room, huh?
"Obviously, it’s going to be a little difficult if that happens. What, are we going to train each other for the fight? That’ll be a little bit awkward," Rick said laughingly.
Looking ahead to future 170-pound bouts, one cannot overlook current welterweight king Georges St. Pierre.
The champion hasn't lost a fight in three years and continued his reign as champ with a win over Dan Hardy at UFC 111.
After the championship bout, St. Pierre was heavily criticized by fans for being a "boring fighter" and was even booed after consistently taking down his opponent.
It's no secret that fans love a good knockout, and fighters typically see St. Pierre's tactics as fighting smart.
Story looks at the man who sits at the top of his weight division with a ton a respect, but tends to understand the MMA fan base's feelings.
"I respect his ability," Story said of St. Pierre. "He’s really good, but it kind of seems he's falling into a roll to hold his pile rather than crush his opponent...
"He’s definitely dominant and he's very good at what he can do," Story continued. "He forces his will on his opponents, but killer instinct anymore? No."
Might GSP have ever owned a killer instinct? According to Story, he might not have.
"I don’t know if he ever really had it too much," Story said. "How many knockouts has he gotten? How many TKOs has he gotten? A lot of his finishes are submissions. He almost got Hardy in a couple submissions. Obviously, he almost finished the fight, but you know, I like seeing people get knocked out. I like knocking people out, and I think a champion should be able to perform at least some kind of knockout.”
With two straight wins since losing his debut to John Hathaway, Story can emerge as a legitimate contender at 170 pounds with a win at UFC 112.
The trick, according to Story, is making sure the finish to his fight is noticed by the right people.
"If I go out and finish Nick in the first round by knockout or by quick submission and then my next fight I do the same thing… I'll be right in the mix," Story said about his status at welterweight. "I think at least two more very dominant performances, I'll be in the mix."
And just how does the aggressive Mr. Story plan on finishing the fight?
"I can see TKOing him in the second round."
Not only calling the finish, but also the round! Confidence doesn't seem to escape the mind frame of Story.
When asked if he plans on sending his opponent back to merry ol' England, the American expressed an obligation and was quick to say, "Oh hell yeah!"
"My first fight I lost to an English guy. I gotta get some redemption… I can't lose to two, I‘ll never hear the end of it."
Rick will be coming into UFC 112 with sponsorship from Hitman Fight Gear and Dollamur Sports Surfaces.
UFC 112 will available on pay-per-view at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT, but will replay at the regularly scheduled time of 10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT.
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