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Ricco Rodriguez: Overeem Didn't Want to Take the Risk

Former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez's scrapped bout with Alistair Overeem at DREAM.15 was supposed to be the next step in his road back to relevancy. After a stint on Celebrity Rehab for his issues with drugs and obesity, he has cleaned up and a fight with Overeem would have been a major step back into the MMA spotlight and could have resurrected his career.

It was not to be though as Overeem and his camp did not consider Rodriguez a worthy opponent and so he made his trip to Japan for nothing.

"They way it was explained to me was that Overeem had a contract with DREAM. Bottom line is if they find you an opponent then you are supposed to step up. I feel that Overeem and his camp didn't want to take risk. The reality is that he doesn't feel like I'm a worthy opponent and he has his right to feel that way. The reality is that he doesn't want to lose to someone that wasn't as big as Arlovski, or as big as Fedor. There was too much risk in this fight."

"[DREAM] put me on a plane and I was signed to fight Overeem and then, from what I understand, Overeem's camp didn't accept the fight. They (Overeem's camp) led us to believe that they were going to take the fight from the beginning and then, from what I was told, they were very respectful and they apologized to myself and my camp, but they would not take this particular fight."

And so Rodriguez boarded a plan for Japan, and while he was in the air, the rest of the world found out that Overeem would not be there when he arrived.

"I'm sad that Overeem didn't accept [the fight]. I feel like Overeem and his camp knew that there was a possibility of a loss. They didn't feel like it was a win-win for them and in hindsight, it was probably a good call. They don't understand how great a shape I am in and how hungry I am for this opportunity. Seven straight wins this past year. This would have been really my time to shine here and I'm upset that it didn't go through."

"To me though, it is a compliment. If you know you can crush me, why not just come in and pick up your pay check, put on a great show for the fans and do that job? He didn't want to do that. In my perspective as an athlete, you are here to fight. Here to put on a show and do a great job for the fans and do your job. If I'm not the opponent of your suiting then come down and crush this guy and move on to the next opponent. I'm waiting for the opportunity. I'm hungry. This just lets me know I'm getting closer to the opportunity. Something big. Overeem knows that and they can't take the risk, it's to much of a gamble for them."

DREAM and FEG has often received criticism for their tendency to book fights late and there have also been reports of late payments for some of the foreign fighters. Rodriguez had no problems of that kind with DREAM however.

"DREAM has been nothing but pleasant to me since I've been here. They made this phenomenal. I can only tell you that I've heard stories where people have had problems getting paid and this and that but DREAM stepped up to the plate did everything and then some. I'd be blessed to come back and work for this company. I'm not just saying that, I speak freely. They have been completely apologetic. I feel like they have been honest and they made everything very kosher with me. If this is the way they are going to do business, then I have no problem coming back and working with them."

Rodriguez was initially set to fight in Impact FC in Australia on July 10. The same day as DREAM.15. His missed opportunity in Japan was not the reason for that fight being canceled though.

"I was supposed to fight Jeff Monson but the commission didn't allow several fighters to fight on multiple shows in such a short time. I spoke with the promoter and I believe they are doing another show in August and I'll go back there then and fight. So yeah, the promoter canceled it."

For a fighter who has just flown half way around the world for no real reason, Rodriguez is surprisingly calm and patient.

"I'm not getting the opportunity to train for three months to prepare for a fight like all the other guys. My job now is to stay in top physical condition so that when I get the opportunity, I'll be ready to fight. I know that people wont take me seriously until I execute a big fight in a big show. Then they'll take me seriously. That's what I'm doing. I'm waiting. I'm patient. I'm playing the game. When the time comes I will prevail."

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