This month BluRayMMA.com is proud to introduce a new member to the team, welcome on board Gareth Doherty, debuting via an interview with TUF 4 veteran Rich Clementi.
On a cold winters night in Belfast, Northern Ireland “Cage Wars – Nightmare” raged with a clearly partisan crowd, having witnessed two local fighters crowned victorious with Colin “The Gift” McKee (7-2) beating BJJ Brown Belt Neydson Santos Ferreira (0-1) via TKO taking “The Gift” on a seven fight winning streak. Also victorious was Lee “The Dragon” McKibbin (3-5) defeating UFC veteran John ‘”The Machine” Lober (5-9-4) via standing guillotine choke in only 45 seconds, then it was time for the main event.
The home crowd hoped that the top three fights could be rounded out with victories from the home fighters. The main event featured another UFC veteran Rich “No Love” Clementi (34-15-1) vs Chris “Menace 2 Society” Stringer (5-10-1) with Stringer taking the fight on a months notice after Peter “Slam” Duncan (4-5) got injured. The first stanza begins with both fighters exchanging on their feet until Stringer catches a kick and takes Clementi to the ground. The crowd erupts in what seems to be the local fighter gaining control, however Clementi remains calm and we soon see why, with Stringer being reversed and put on his back with “No Love” living up to his moniker by seeing out the round with strong elbows from the top.
The second round shows a determined Clementi taking to the cage and employing superior wrestling skills to take the fight to the ground where the barrage of elbows start anew until Stringer is caught in a triangle choke and forced to tap 3:11 into the second round. Within ten minutes of the fight ending the hall was empty. Five minutes later I was conducting this interview in Clementi’s changing room among the well wishers after his victory. Sporting no signs of injury apart from a cut on his left foot received from landing a kick on Stringers elbow.
Clementi was relaxed saying training went well for the fight and was happy to be back in Northern Ireland again having previously seen his student JC Pennington (19-9-1) victorious at Cage Wars Decade. Among his trips included an opportunity to come over for UFC 72 also in Belfast, where he had accepted a fight with Dustin “McLovin” Hazelett (12-4) on two days notice however Hazelett’s opponent was passed fit, so his time was spent drinking instead.
Clementi known for his time on season 4 of the Ultimate Fighter had mixed views on his association with the UFC saying, as others had, that the TUF house was not an enjoyable place but was thankful his season was full of seasoned professionals. The show helped rejuvenate his career with notable victories coming inside the octagon over Anthony Johnson, Melvin Guillard and Terry Etim. “No Love”’s girlfriend, shortly after standing on his injured foot, stated she feared for him whenever she saw Anthony Johnson (a man who weighs as much as 200 pounds between fights) at the weigh in. Her fears were not helped when Johnson weighed in at 177.5 lbs for the welterweight bout, Clementi submitted the then unbeaten Johnson in the second.
Although believing the UFC gave him the chance “I earned what I got, I fought for them on short notice and helped them out. It was disappointing being cut, one month after I had been re-signed to another contract and to find out online that I’m not needed I feel like they could have treated me better.” Clementi was open to a return , “I’m willing to fight for anyone, anywhere or for any promotion I just want to stay active and fight as much as possible. I doubt the reason behind why any fighter wouldn’t want to be in the UFC.” Probed on Fedor’s move to Strikeforce rather than UFC, Clementi admitted “well whenever your the number 1 fighter in the world, things are different.”
Clementi was complimentary on emerging UK talent, when asked who was his toughest fight, “Terry Etim” declaring “he was quick, long and knew how to use his reach to his advantage. He needs to be watched out for and nurtured to let his skills develop, the UFC tries to make stars out of everyone and he just needs to be given the chance to fulfill his potential.” Lofty praise for Liverpool’s Etim (14-2) who has a four fight winning streak since his decision loss to Clementi at UFC 84.
Clementi’s next opponent is Derek Krantz (9-1-1) on a December 12th Louisiana show, but when asked about his dream opponent he declares “that fucking wrecking machine, you know him the Lithuanian guy, Zaromskis”. Marius “The Whitemare” Zaromskis (13-3) recently signed to Strikeforce and fighting out of London Shootfighters impressed with his underdog victory in the Dream Welterweight Grand Prix with two Head Kick K.O.’s bringing victory. Apparently the fact that Zaromskis is heavier and a “fucking wrecking machine” only excites Clementi who would love the chance to fight the Lithuanian.
When asked about his MMA career Clementi disputes his official 50 fight record “you know not even every fight is on my record. I knocked out Krazy Horse in Floridia in an underground show, which isnt there.” “No Love” prefers limited rules MMA, stating “ I like knees to the head on the ground, its true to the sport, I prefer the Vale Tudo style, I fought 16 men tournaments where I have had to fight three times in one night, ” Concerning the 16 man tournaments for ZST, Clementi talks of his discontent with the Kotani brothers because of the disrespect shown. He illustrates that “whenever your training for someone you hate its easier. The worst thing is if a guy disrespects you, I would wake up fantasying about the guys and what I would do to them, putting pictures of their face everywhere to keep me motivated” a sentiment also expressed regarding the Melvin Guillard fight.
The final point of discussion between Clementi and I centered upon the scoring system, with the boy from the Bayou believing “the ten point must system isn’t accurate in MMA”. He explains, “You can have a guy beat the shit out of the other guy for one round and doesn’t finish him whereas the other guy could use his jab and work around him for two rounds and will get a decision”. And with regards to a remedy to the current ailing system Clementi suggests that “increments could be used to make the difference and reflect the fight itself better”and expresses a personal preference for the Japanese style of scoring as “the fight as a whole is scored rather than the rounds.”
Clementi’s next opponent is Derek Krantz (9-1-1) at “Team 3:16 – Seasons Beatings” at Shreveport, Louisiana.