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Ricco Rodriguez Explains How He Almost ‘Single-Handedly Destroyed’ The UFC

Former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriquez has been a comeback trail of sorts as of late. He’s on a 10-fight winning streaking dating back to July 2009, and there’s been quite a bit of buzz recently about him signing with one of the sport’s bigger organizations. One of the rumors even had Ricco in talks with the UFC for a potential return, but it turns out that wasn’t true since the UFC essentially black listed him after he almost “single-handedly destroyed” the organization in 2002. Ricco told the story for the first time publicly on Cage Potato’s Bum Rush Radio show, and boy, is it a doozy.

I wore a henna tattoo (that read in big bold letters) in my fight against Randy Couture, and at that time, the UFC was literally just building itself, we were only at 60,000 pay-per-view purchases [per event]. The Mohegan Sun and the Indian tribe allowed that fight to go on, and the truth is, they almost stopped that fight from happening. If that would have been the case, then I would have single-handedly destroyed the UFC.

…First of all, Lorenzo Fertitta, they own casinos, so when you own a casino, you have certain laws that are very strict…If you remember this fight, Bernard Hopkins vs. Felix Trinidad, Bernard Hopkins just got out of jail, he was approached by to wear a henna tattoo. He took the $100,000 that they gave him, and he bet it on himself. He was a 4-1 underdog and he won the fight, and he won $400,000 plus his regular purse. So when the opportunity presented itself to me, I did the same exact thing. I was a 5-1 underdog, so I gambled on myself and I won that fight. And I made more than the UFC would have ever paid me. The UFC paid me $30,000 to show and $30,000 to win, and I put all my money on myself and I won half a million.

So there’s a lot of things that people don’t understand. And this is why Dana White will never let me back in the UFC, and I totally understand. I respect that, and it is what it is. The truth of the matter is, is that Lorenzo Fertitta came and did a walk with me right before the fight, and you know how terrifying that was when Lorenzo Fertitta walked with me?…

I’m not sure exactly what the laws are and how the fight taking place on an Indian reservation factors into it, but betting on yourself in a professional sports competition when the organization you’re competing in is backed by casino money just screams big trouble for everyone involved. Luckily, the UFC flew under the radar back then, but man, how pissed would you have been if you were Lorenzo Fertitta in that situation? I’m all for second chances, but I can’t blame them either for never letting him back in.

Image via Jeff Sherwood for Sherdog

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