Monday, August 6, 2012

Do you want to be a fighter? Part I

Do you want to be a fighter? That question, accentuated by a word that is missing, has been made legendary by UFC President Dana White; he first asked the question on the very first episode of the reality show 'The Ultimate Fighter', now headed into its 16th season. The question is forever linked to White, though when he asks it, it sounds more like, "Do you want to be a f****n' fighter?"

To answer that question, one has to go to fighters at the very beginning of their careers; those with aspirations of one day possibly answering the question to Dana White himself. In this two-part series, I did just that as I interviewed three promising up and coming amateur mixed martial arts fighters who coincidentally, will all compete at the PA Cage Combat event taking place at the PA Sands Casino on Friday August 24.

One of the featured fighters on the card is a local talent from right here in Bethlehem, PA, Rick Nuno. Currently sporting a (3-1) amateur record, Nuno's only loss came in his last fight due to a technical decision made to stop the fight after a cut was incurred; prior to that he had three first round KO finishes, the longest going a mere (1:13) into the first round.

Those quick KO's are no doubt attributed to his striking background who he first credits to his father. "My first influence was my father who first started teaching me boxing and self defense techniques when I was about five or six," he said. "He was influenced by Bruce Lee, but he was more of a street fighter. He wanted me to have a more structured base, so he started me in Taekwondo and Karate."

A car accident when he was nine, causing a fractured skull and head trauma, derailed those activities and forced him into other sports; yet the foundation had been laid. Thus, it was no surprise he became a fan of MMA while studying 'Exercise Science' at the University of Pittsburgh. It was through his major that an opportunity to partake in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as part of his studies rekindled a spark that never left him. He said, "It was a new challenge for me and took me out of my comfort zone, which had always been striking."

Upon returning home, he linked up with local pro fighter George Glykas who took him around the fight circuit. One thing led to another and Rick suddenly found himself competing in MMA. "It wasn't something I planned, it literally fell into my lap," Nuno said. Two years later, he is dreaming and working towards a career as a professional MMA fighter.

He currently trains his boxing at the Allentown Boxing Gym with trainer Lemuel 'Indio' Rodriguez and WBC Continental Americas Welterweight champion Ronald Cruz. As for MMA, he is training with the renowned AMA Fight Club in Whippany, NJ; home to UFC veterans Frankie Edgar, Charlie Brenneman and the Miller brothers just to name a few. He says, "Training with my partners makes me feel capable to compete. At the end of the day, I want to be in the UFC, but I don't want to just be there; I want to be a champion."

Rick Nuno, previously competed as a welterweight (170lbs.), but is currently making the drop to compete at lightweight (155lbs.). Tomorrow, Part II will feature female fighter Rachel Kendall and promising upstart Tim Kunkel of Northampton, PA.

Thanks to Rick Nuno for his time in granting me this interview

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