Exclusive: Bellator 100's Rick Hawn ready to bring out the inner beast tonightEveryone thought Rick Hawn was done with the welterweight division. The former United States Judo Olympian was a finalist in the Bellator season four 170 pound tournament, losing a controversial decision to Jay Hieron, but he reestablished himself as a lightweight, winning the season six tournament, although he came up short in his title fight earlier this year. Undeterred, "Genghis" disposed of judo rival Karo Parisyan earlier this year and despite preparing for a lightweight bout in November, he stepped up on extremely short notice when an opening appeared in the Bellator season nine welterweight tournament field. Hawn takes UFC veteran Matt Riddle's spot and will square off opposite Herman Terrado tonight (Sept. 20, 2013) at Bellator 100 in Phoenix, Arizona. The stocky slugger spoke to MMAOddsbreaker during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission about returning to welterweight, his tournament expectations and bringing out his inner beast in this exclusive interview. Check it out: Brian Hemminger: Let's get the easy one out of the way. How does it feel to be taking this tournament opportunity on short notice? Rick Hawn: It's a little scary, I guess. I shouldn't say scary, but it's the first time I've taken a fight on short notice. I was already getting ready for a fight in November anyways, so I just trained hard and was in shape. But yeah, I feel good. Brian Hemminger: You're taking this tournament at welterweight, so how do you feel at welterweight right now? You were preparing for a fight at lightweight, so that's a big shift. Rick Hawn: Yeah, I had just started my diet a couple weeks ago for lightweight so I only have a few pounds to lose. I actually had a bulk up a bit right after the fight was announced so I get a bit bigger. The guy I'm fighting in the quarterfinals is basically my size, just a little bit thicker, maybe more muscle, but he's pretty much my size I believe. Brian Hemminger: Do you feel like you're experience in that welterweight tournament a couple years back where you advanced to the finals will really set you up for success here? Rick Hawn: Yeah, I hope so. I fought some really big guys with some big names in the last couple tournaments. I definitely have the mental edge I think, knowing what the tournament format is and the spotlight. I'm not entirely sure what my opponent is like in terms of background and how familiar he is with the spotlight. It'll be interesting to see and I know I'm more than ready. I've been here for a while. I'm ready to go. I'm excited for it and nervous at the same time. I wasn't able to get a full training camp ahead of me but I definitely am more than ready. Brian Hemminger: That's something I wanted to bring up. Firas Zahabi and those guys are all about extensive gameplanning, they work it into their training camps as a vital part. How much preparation did you actually get to do for your upcoming opponent? Was it a cram session this week or are you just going for what works for you in general without trying to overthink it heading into this bout? Rick Hawn: Obviously we have a great strategy going into every fight we have training up in Montreal, but the good thing I have for this fight this week is my opponent has a similar body structure and fighting style compared to the fight I was going to have against Derek Campos in November. I don't have to change much. There's not a lot of footage of Terrado I could find, a few short videos. He's a strong kid, a young kid, he's pretty wild and aggressive with his strikes. I'm gonna lean towards my experience to get me through it. Brian Hemminger: Does it help at all that your last fight was at welterweight with that grudge match against Karo Parisyan? Rick Hawn: Yeah, I think so. I told everyone I wasn't going back to welterweight anymore, that I was going to stay at lightweight, but the whole reason I decided to jump into this tournament were the match-ups I felt I could secure. The same thing goes with Karo Parisyan. He was about my size and height. If the available opponent was a big, huge welterweight, I probably wouldn't have taken this fight or looked to go on this tournament run. I think it's a good opportunity to get in there. Most of my fights are at welterweight anyways. I'm used to being the smaller guy, my entire career has been like that. Brian Hemminger: This welterweight field is kind of wide open now. The depth isn't there like past tournaments. Did that play any part into your decision as well? Rick Hawn: Absolutely. It's another reason why I looked at not only my opponent I was facing in the first round, but also the rest of the bracket. I'm very confident that I can have a good run, a good tournament. Anything's possible. The ultimate goal is winning the whole thing but there's a couple fights I need to win first. I definitely think I have a good chance. Brian Hemminger: Your power translated so well when you dropped down to lightweight. Do you think you'll have that same level of power bumping back up a weight class? You knocked out Karo which was impressive, but will you be able to pull that off against everyone else? Rick Hawn: I think it more comes down to technique and speed. My technique is better and it's getting better all the time. I really focus on my striking, my boxing skills. My technique is better but weight plays a role in it. I'll be the smallest guy in this field in terms of overall weight, but I've always been a smaller guy and managed to get through it. I'll rely on my speed to get through this tournament and hopefully translate that into power against the bigger guys. Brian Hemminger: You're a very respectful guy and you've discussed the honor of martial arts and how it translates to every day life. How do you get into that mode on fight night where you want to rip somebody's head off in the cage? Rick Hawn: I think going through training camp, on the outside I'm nice and I'm gonna be respectful to my opponent, unless it's someone like Karo who I didn't like (laughs) and the feeling was mutual. But on the inside, I'm not like that. I'm looking to rip someone's head off from the moment I know I'll be facing them in the cage. The inner part of me is way mean and aggressive. What I show to the public and my opponent, I don't want to show that on the outside and be a complete dick. I reserve that for my inner thoughts and my motivation and get ready for the fight. Brian Hemminger: Speaking of Karo, how good did it feel to end that whole grudge match and put it behind you earlier this year? The rivalry dated back to your judo days. Rick Hawn: It was great. I was hoping it would be more of a knockout and less a TKO. I wanted to knock him out completely, but I got the job done. It kind of ended the whole discussion and the whole feud. It's all behind me now. It felt great, long time coming, 10 plus years. Brian Hemminger: When you're picturing victory against Herman Tarrado, what do you see? Rick Hawn: I see me using my experience and what I've learned in the past against him. I don't think he's fought anyone as skilled as me and I want to exploit that to the best of my abilities. I plan on going out there, fighting a good fight, having a good strategy and putting it all together. That's how I envision it, replay it in my head and I hope it translates on Friday. Rick would like to thank Fuji Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @RickHawnMMA.
About the Author
Brian Hemminger has been involved in MMA since 2007, and is highly regarded for his well-researched and knowledgeable interviews. He has hosted The Verbal Submission MMA podcast for three years and was a staff writer at MMAmania.com from 2011 to 2013 with an extensive background in live coverage, fight previews and post-fight analysis.
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