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WICHITA, Kansas — Derby’s David Rickels has become one of the rising stars in mixed martial arts and a title shot awaits before he returns to the cage.
When asked how life has changed since his Bellator win, he will tell you.
“Very fattening. I’ve been enjoying my time off.”
And so he should. Although to watch him train would suggest he doesn’t spend too much time sitting around.
KSN first saw his intense work ethic in 2008 when the recent Derby High School graduate was just getting a feel for the MMA game.
He’d claw his way through the amateur ranks and has gone on to enjoy tremendous success as a pro losing just once in 15 pro fights.
When we asked him to describe his style, he said this.
“It’s caveman smash.”
A persona that’s equal parts attitude and appearance.
He’s hard-headed and instinctive.
There’s also that signature beard, and to top it off a T-Rex escort into his most recent fight against Saad Awad.
“Having fun is part of my job, and the caveman thing helps.”
Don’t expect that to change. Even with a title fight and the possibility of bigger paychecks in his future.
He hopes to work on an action figure, trading card, and a comic book.
“No, I’m working on it. That’s my list.”
And yet, Rickels has never forgotten who he is or where he comes from.
“Derby, Kansas is my stomping ground, so I like to represent.”
And it should be no surprise, he’s always been close to his family even if they’ve had to learn to love his career choice.
“My dad is like this. He’s terrified. He can barely sit there and watch.”
His family continues to grow. His daughter Alexa is 15 months old.
“Securing her future is huge for me.”
It’s a future he thinks about often – even the uncomfortable thought that one day some poor young man is going to ask her on a date.
“How it’s going to go down is when she brings her first date home. I’m going to be playing videos. A highlight reel of me knocking people out. She’ll be home by 9:30. Thanks.”
When he’s not in the cage, Rickels works as a kickboxing instructor in Manhattan. Training some fighters who hope to one day follow his lead. Both the opponent and date for his upcoming title fight are still to be determined.