Richie Vaculik: Part 2- The UFC and the future
By Owen Phillips 19/6/16 News
Australian UFC veteran Richie Vaculik has recently released a new book about his life, ‘Bra Boy- Surfer, Fighter, Larrikin’ and MMA Files had the opportunity to catch up with him and ask about the book, his life and what the future holds. Part 2 discusses his time in the UFC and what the future has in store.
Vaculik was a part of the historic UFC 193 stadium show in Melbourne, Australia that drew a crowd 56,214. Still the highest attendance in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history, it was a fantastic experience for Vaculik. “The whole week leading up to Melbourne was awesome, the whole buzz around the city having Ronda (Rousey) in town, it was just awesome”, he said.
Richie Vaculik’s opponent on this occasion was Danny Martinez who was from the United States of America. Vaculik described the occasion moments before the fight. “Being backstage, then that walk to the octagon was such a long walk and such a huge crowd. The atmosphere was completely different to any other atmosphere I had walked out into and it was hard not to get caught up in that.”
The result of this fight didn’t go Vaculik’s way, but on the biggest stage nerves weren’t an issue. “I did feel pretty calm and relaxed, I would have loved to have pulled the trigger a little bit more in that fight. I was consciously training not to get in a brawl with Danny, because that’s what his style was. I wanted to keep it more technical and out-strike him”, he explained.
When Vaculik managed to get some takedowns against Martinez, he was reversed and Martinez did enough the get the nod from the judges. “In that environment I was looking for ground and pound and just didn’t secure position. I got a little over-excited. In moments like that I was kicking myself looking back at the footage and seeing opportunities slip. In front of that crowd, the biggest UFC event ever, I was looking for an impressive win and unfortunately missed a few opportunities and let it slip”, Vaculik said.
With his first stint in the UFC over with a record of 1-3, Richie Vaculik looks back fondly at this time. “It was great. It was an awesome experience. Very greatful for the whole ride and journey”, he told MMA Files. The performance he was most happy with was a loss to flyweight standout Hawaiian Louis Smolka. “I really enjoyed that. I really fought the way I wanted to fight. I was having fun and was winning the fight. It wasn’t through anything reckless or a mistake I made, Louis just through a perfectly timed kick and stole it”, he said.
The performance against Smolka (11-1) who has a four-fight UFC winning streak gives Vaculik confidence he can have a successful career moving forward. “I’m loving training at the moment, I don’t have a fight locked in. The pressure and everything that comes with fight camp is not quite there at the moment and I’m just enjoying the training, helping all my mates that helped me get ready. Now I returning the favour at the moment”, he said. “I’m happy with the way I am performing at training, and absolutely has given me the motivation and belief to go in there and compete with the best in the world”, Vaculik continued.
When Vaculik does get back in the cage it will be at bantamweight. “I don’t regret at all the move to flyweight and making the most of the opportunities that were presented to me down there but it did take a lot of my focus (cutting weight)”, he said. “In the whole fight camp whether it be 8 to 10 weeks out I am always worried about my weight. For me to get to get to flyweight it was a process where I hired a nutritionist, Dean Amasinger, who was in the Ultimate Fighter house with us. I got to do all the little things right down there and get down there healthily, and then bounce back once I have made weight. With bantamweight I only have got to focus on the weight the last two weeks out, change the few things and get down there pretty easily”, he explained.
Richie Vaculik described more benefits for him at bantamweight. “I’ve fought at flyweight and I have fought at lightweight, so I’ve experienced either ends of the spectrum, and I think my weight class is at bantamweight; where I perform best. I can go through a whole fight camp with good energy, the focus is always on the training and how the body is feeling and not so much the number on the scales.” Vaculik mentioned he has more power and can absorb punishment better at bantamweight and this will be his weight division for the future.
There are already signs that Vaculik will have a great future ahead of him when he decides he is done with fighting. He has an analyst job on the Australian UFC weekly television show ‘UFC Fight Week’, which is in it’s second year on Fox Sports and he couldn’t be happier to be involved. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I was really taken aback when they presented me with the co-hosting role. I’m just loving it. I’m a huge fan of the sport and I always have been”, he said. Vaculik went on to say, “To get in there and just gas-bag about each week and all the current news, to be able to do that as a bit of a job is awesome. I feel very, very fortunate to be able to do it and having a lot of fun with it.”
The next UFC event in Australia has been booked for a return to Melbourne and there may be an opportunity for a local fighter to make their debut. Richie Vaculik threw up a few names to look out for in the future for Australian mixed martial arts (MMA). The first one was Alex Volkanovski. “He has looked amazing. I have trained with Alex. I know how good he is inside the gym at training. How dedicated to the sport he is and how hard he trains. The level of competition that he’s just been walking through is pretty impressive.” The next one was Martin Nguyen who fights in ONE Fighting Championship and recently had an impressive over the highly-touted Christian Lee. Vaculik described him as “super talented and with a great head on his shoulders; a really humble guy”. Two other fighters who Vaculik think deserve to get a chance in a big promotion are Mark Baskin and Rory O’Connell.
With his first child on the way, Vaculik’s not sure that he would want them to step into the octagon. If it was a choice between MMA and surfing, it would appear to be a question that has already been discussed. “Most definitely surfing. I have had this conversion with my wife. She is pretty adamant that she does not want any of our children stepping in the octagon or the cage”, he said. There is certainly no problem doing the individual components of martial arts like taekwondo, karate or jiu-jitsu. Like all supportive parents Vaculik would give them his full backing if they were passionate about being involved in competing in MMA. “You can’t hold them back from doing what it is they love”, he told MMA Files. It seems something a little less stressful would be the preferred option.
Check out Part 1 of our chat with Richie Vaculik here.