mixed martial arts news
Written by Hurtsbad MMA Senior Analyst Todd Jackson
The Bellator season six lightweight tournament got off to an explosive start and looking forward to the next round there are no signs of things slowing down. One glaring match up that fight fans have been anticipating is Rick Hawn vs. Lloyd Woodard.
Both of these warriors carry records of 12-1. Hawn has eight finishes and Woodard has 10. What that tells us is there will be no search for judge’s opinions when these two meet in the tournament semi-finals as they chase their chance to move one step closer to Bellator gold.
Rick Hawn is a former Olympic Judoka who has made a move to train in the lair of pound for pound great Georges St. Pierre; Tri-Star Gym in Montreal. He has also made the move to lightweight where his frame is better suited. His power was undeniable at welterweight but now at lightweight he is just that much more dangerous.
At Tri-Star he has had the opportunity to train with some top athletes in the sport like Rory Macdonald and Mark Bocek. His improvement has been undeniable as he seamlessly transitioned from a career in Judo to now becoming a full-time fighter as he hones his craft around superior athletes and under world class coaching.
Hawn took some time out before heading to Montreal to speak with Hurtsbad MMA about his opponent, his transition to lightweight, and his decision to migrate to Tri-Star MMA.
First Rick Hawn told Hurtsbad MMA’s Todd Jackson how much more comfortable he is at lightweight.
“Definitely 155 is the right weight class for me and for my frame. During my last ten years in Judo I spent time trying to bulk up and get bigger. I always thought I was undersized in every division I competed in. In MMA, at welterweight, the guys were just too big. I really didn’t have to do much or change much to drop to 155 really.” Hawn said.
In Bellator feeling comfortable and ready to go is only half the battle. These fighters do not enjoy the luxury other fighters in the game do in preparing for months for one opponent. Instead they prepare for a high octane pressure cooker that is presented by the fast pace of the Bellator season.
Hawn talked about the quick turn around and how it can be a challenge or a blessing for an athlete. “Depending on how banged up you get it can present a challenge with the short turn around. With this fight I came out of it perfectly healthy and I’m good to go and started training again right away. But last year in my fight against Jim Wallhead I got banged up pretty good and was really swollen for about a week. That worried me with the short turn around but I ended up being alright.”
As for the aspect of preparing for opponents, of course there is a focus on the individual but a fighter like Hawn also maintains his drive for self-improvement. “I try to focus on the one guy I am facing but more than anything I just try to work on my game and make myself a more well-rounded fighter.” Hawn explained. “Right now I have a few weeks to work on and study film on Lloyd Woodard so that’s what I’ll be doing now. But it all comes down to if I am in good shape and stay strong I will fight well no matter who I fight.”
The former Olympian talked about the motivation behind his move to Tri-Star MMA. “Transitioning to Tri-Star has been the most important thing for my career to continue. There is just not the same quality of guys in the New England area. I have always been about training with the best quality guys and getting beat up. If you are not leaving the gym all beat up, pissed off, and frustrated to a certain extent you are not going to be motivated to learn and do better. At least not for me.”
Hawn went on to say, “I don’t like to be that big fish in the pond because you get lackadaisical and you get lazy. Training at Tri-Star I get crushed all the time. Those guys up there like Rory MacDonald, Mark Bocek, just a ton of good guys, they have ten or fifteen guys who fight in the UFC. They have high level coaching, high level competitors, and everyone there is on the same page. They all want to become champion and that really has got me motivated.”
All of that punishment he puts himself through with some of the best fighters in the world is to prepare for a man like Lloyd Woodard who is a lethal wrecking machine with a fast pace and aggressive approach that can pose difficult questions for any lightweight who finds himself locked in a cage with him.
Hawn talked about his expectations when he himself becomes that man standing across the cage from Woodard at Bellator 66. “I expect a battle. He is a character. He is wild, and he is going to come out to brawl, that is what he likes to do. I can’t really get caught up in that style of fighting because it favors him to a certain degree. I have to go out there and be smart. I believe I have the tools to shut him down and in pretty much every part of the fight wherever it may go. He has got some holes in his game and I am going to be well prepared come April 20th.”
Rick Hawn was sitting cageside for Woodard’s most recent win over Bellator favorite Patricky Pitbull. While he recognized how impressive the brutal submission win was for Woodard, he took some notes home to study on as well.
“I think that was an impressive performance. I think it surprised everybody, especially Pitbull. He came right at him and really overwhelmed him.” Hawn said. “But also Pitbull is giving up a lot of size; he could probably be a great featherweight guy. He got caught and that stuff happens. I saw some holes in both of their games from that fight. I learned a lot from that fight when I was in the stands watching it.”
So now the homework has been done, the preparation is complete, and fight week is here. Barreling down on Rick Hawn is a dangerous scrapper with a propensity for the dramatic, and a tendency for flare.
For Hawn, a man of great respect and modesty, he has more than readied himself for the inevitable battle that awaits him this Friday night. His confidence is well earned, his abilities clearly put him in a position to perform, and his disregard for the dramatics will allow him to maintain focus.
All the ingredients are in place for this rising star to make his way one more step up the ladder. Now it is time for fight fans to sit back and enjoy the show as these two go to work on each other to see who is moving on in the tournament and who is going back to the drawing board.