Ricco Rodriguez (left) doesn’t think he’ll ever compete in the UFC again. | Photo: Dave Mandel
Ricco Rodriguez believes Bellator Fighting Championships has given him the opportunity to walk away from MMA like he always wanted.
The former UFC heavyweight champion debuts in the promotion Aug. 20 against Seth Petruzelli at Bellator 48. He hopes to win that fight, earn a spot in the next heavyweight tournament and eventually take the Bellator heavyweight title.
“Bjorn [Rebney] went to the networks and fought for me,” Rodriguez said on “The Savage Dog Show” of the Bellator CEO, whose promotion airs on MTV2. “I’m grateful. I’ve been begging Bjorn for almost two years to get me in. … This opportunity will definitely change my life.”
Since his last UFC fight in November 2003, Rodriguez has competed all over the world in a variety of promotions. He doesn’t expect to ever fight in the Octagon again.
“I wouldn’t want to fight where I’m not welcome,” he said.
In particular, Rodriguez isn’t on the same page with the UFC when it comes to pay.
“I know what I’m worth,” Rodriguez said. “I know what I’ve made. I can’t go less than that. People think fighting for the UFC is the most important thing in the world. Well look, guys, I got kids. I got a house. I got a car. I’ve got to pay my bills. Living is more important. When I was younger … I was very flash-dashy, cocky, arrogant. I thought fame was the important thing, being famous, and that’s not true. You can still be famous and be broke. People recognize me all the time, but I’ve got to pay my bills.”
In Rodriguez’s view that makes Bellator his best option.
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:26:50).