Credit: Dave Mandel, Sherdog.com

Mike Rhodes talks UFC debut, the RFA as a 'feeder' league & much more

Mike ‘Biggie’ Rhodes makes his highly anticipated UFC debut in just under two weeks at UFC on FOX 10. With the UFC forced to scrap two fights due to injury on the card, the promotion brought in two Welterweight prospects to duke it out inside the Octagon. Rhodes, the RFA Welterweight champion, took the opportunity on just two weeks notice to face George Sullivan.

I recently sat down with Rhodes to talk about his UFC debut, taking fights on short notice, the RFA as a feeder league, and much more.

His excitement going into his UFC debut

It really hasn’t hit me yet. I think it will once I get to Chicago and start going through all the pre-fight obligations. I have to do the media, the weigh-ins, and meeting Burt and all the guys from the UFC. Once that happens, I think it will really hit me. As of right now I am just really excited and thankful for the opportunity.

Fighting on short notice, and why it is an advantage

A lot of people let their emotions and the build up of their first UFC fight get to them. For me, coming in on short notice, I won’t even have time to think about the fight until the fight itself. Doing all the medicals, and everything required for me to get licensed beforehand will keep me busy. I think it is a good thing that I get to go in there and just fight. I don’t have to get bothered, or have too much time to let the nerves get to me.

Making it to the big show

I think there a lot of fighters out there that are really good. MMA is in every state and country now, so the opportunity to get into the UFC is getting smaller and smaller. It’s like a high school kid trying to make it to the NBA or the NFL. I feel like this is perfect timing for me. I had to put my work in, and pay my dues, and my career has been progressing.

The RFA as ‘feeder’ league to the UFC

I think Ed (Soares) has made it pretty clear that the RFA wants to be the feeder league to the UFC. A lot of that weighs on the prospects that they bring in though. We have to come in, fight and put on a good show. All of the guys that have been brought from the RFA to the UFC have staked their claim as top prospects in there weight class. It was just a matter of time before those guys got the UFC call, and they took care of business up to that point. They have all been successful in the UFC thus far.

The timing is right

Once I started my pro career and racked off a couple wins I thought I would get to the UFC. If I would have gotten that big win over Brandon Thatch I think I could have got the call right away. Losing to him set me back a little bit, but I put on two impressive performances after that and the opportunity came around. They were looking for someone to fill a last second spot, and I am always ready to fight so I stepped up and took the opportunity.

Interested in the rematch with Brandon Thatch?

I am not going to dwell on that loss. But, do I want to fight him again? Yes. I feel like on a full training camp I can beat him. I am not going to judge my success off if I get to fight Brandon Thatch again. If I never have to fight him again, then so be it. I plan on being the best 170 pound fighter in the UFC in the future. If we meet somewhere down the road, we meet. If not, I am gunning for whoever has the title or whoever is above me that can put me further in the ranks. Other than that, I have no mind or ill will toward Brandon Thatch.

Were you training for another opponent when the UFC called?

Ya I was pretty far out into camp. I had just come back from California where I was training with the guys at Team Alpha Male for about 10 days. I got back and was getting in shape, dropping weight, and I was going to fight for the RFA in February. I was back home teaching a seminar, getting a workout in when they called me, and I said yes to the opportunity.

What do you know about your opponent George Sullivan?

I know he is 14-3, and they sent me a link to his Sherdog. That really doesn’t even matter to me though. If he got into the UFC then he is a prospect and a really good fighter. I am not really too much worried about him to be honest. I let my coaches look at the video, and they tell me what I can do. I trust them to do that. I never really search fighters, because I let my coaches take care of that. Whatever they tell me I need to do to win, I will do it. I am a complete martial artist, so anywhere I need to go to win the fight I can do that.

His feelings prior to a fight

Supreme confidence is how I feel. I train with the best and we compete with each other on a daily basis. I train really hard, and that is why I am getting this opportunity. My last three fights I have fought guys that are top level competition so my confidence is high. It’s always high. I believe that I can beat anybody. But, I am also aware that my opponent should feel the same way knowing that his skill level is up to par. I go in there with a level head, but I am very confident in my skill set.

Being active on Twitter in order to gain popularity

MMA is about personalities, fights, skill, people you know. It’s a mixture of all of those things. Social media is a powerful tool. My presence is felt among the followers I do have because I am always on. I am constantly interacting, I speak my mind, and flow freely on Twitter. I know with the UFC I need to watch the things I say, but I am going to be me. If someone rubs me the wrong way you will know. If I am fighting a guy I respect you will know that too. Whatever you got to do to push your career forward, you have do it. You have to be able to stick out and be different from fighters in some way. So, why not be good on social media? It is a talent to be good at both.

His personal favorite fighter

Joseph Benavidez. He is one of my favorite fighters and a good friend of mine. I met him a year and a half ago, and we have been pretty good friends since. I saw him take that loss to DJ, but I have never had a fighter I was more drawn to. His personality and the way he fights, I like all things about Joseph Benavidez. He is a good guy and he puts on exciting fights. He might not be the most technical, but that guy fights to finish and hurt people. I like that style.

Tags: Benson Henderson George Sullivan Josh Thomson Mike Rhodes UFC UFC On FOX 10

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