Former heavyweight champ Ricco Rodriguez has seen a lot during his decade-plus run in Mixed Martial Arts including stints in PRIDE, WEC, and of course the organization he is typically associated with – the UFC. Now, after compiling ten consecutive wins, it appears Rodriguez may be poised for a return to the Octagon in the near future.
While a recent article on MMAWeekly indicated Rodriguez is interested in a homecoming, Five Ounces of Pain has learned from a source close to the fighter that talks with the UFC are currently ongoing. It is believed the deal would involve three fights and a six-figure salary paid out over the lifetime of the contract.
The seasoned New Yorker made his UFC debut in 2001 with a TKO win over Andrei Arlovski, then went on to emerge with his hands raised four more times in a row including victories over Jeff Monson and a title win over Randy Couture. However, he lost his initial defense of the belt against Tim Sylvia and eventually parted ways with the promotion after losing in his follow-up appearance (with another “L” to Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira sandwiched in between the defeats).
After the trio of losses Rodriguez went on to deal with a slew of personal problems, including a sizeable weight gain, and has since appeared for more than twenty other promotions including the IFL, EliteXC, and of course one-and-done YAMMA Pit Fighting. He has now cleaned up his life and gotten back into shape with both factors clearly contributing to his current ten-fight run (16-4 in his previous twenty bouts).
However, sources also revealed to 5 Oz. that the UFC’s initial plan for “Suave” would have very little to do with the light heavyweight division (which he has expressed recent interest in). If negotiations are completed and Rodriguez returns, the UFC is expected to utilize him against high-profile opponents only. Potential names include former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and former UFC interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin.
It is also believed that a rematch against Couture is possible as well with Rodriguez holding the afore-mentioned submission victory over the UFC Hall of Famer in 2002. However, Couture’s status is currently uncertain. He stated during an MMA conference in Las Vegas two weeks ago that he has not closed the book on his career but that he would only consider fighting again if the right matchup was offered. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Lyoto Machida were two of the names mentioned by Couture in regards to opponents he was interested in fighting. It is uncertain whether a chance at redemption versus Rodriguez is a match-up holding interest for Couture.