Making the transition to becoming a full-time mixed martial arts fighter is not easy.
To many, MMA is not just a sport, it's a lifestyle. So the dedication, hard work and perseverance it takes to become truly one of the elite often requires a transition away from other professions.
For some it is an easy choice, as many fighters have often quipped how they would rather be a fighter than "work for a living." For others, leaving a promising career behind, especially one in which they are already receive the type of admiration they do from fighting, can be more difficult.
Former professional football player Rex Richards knows this all too well.
After successful stints in the National Football League and Arena Football League, he decided to focus solely on his blossoming MMA career, and while he's had great success inside the cage, persistent business hang-ups have left him at times waiting months on end to fight.
Such was the case when after losing the first fight of his career last year to now Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight Shane Carwin, Richards was looking to rebound quickly and get back on the winning track, only to have outside delays keeping him from fighting until this past weekend's King of the Cage event at the Kiowa Casino in Devol, Okla.
"It felt good to come out, be explosive, get back in there and get a victory under my belt," exclaimed Richards of his long-delayed return to fighting against Jeremy Carver.
"I went out there and just went back to what I'm good at. I got the takedown, maintained side control pretty quick, got to the mount, landed a few shots and he turned over. I started hitting him with some pretty good ground and pound, he lifted his head up and I sunk in the choke."
With the win, Richards raises his overall record to 6-1, and now looks to attain the kind of consistency that has eluded him much of his career and kept him from fighting the first five months of 2008.
He commented on his year of frustrations heading into last weekend by saying, "It wasn't the fact that the fight before I had lost, but that I had so many fights fall through.
"I got injured before the YAMMA (Pit Fighting) tournament and couldn't train the right way. Antwain Britt backed out like a coward for the UWC card. It's just frustrating, I had a lot of big opportunities to go and show my skills, and I felt they were kind of stripped from me."
Back on the winning track, things are starting to turn around for Richards, as it appears he is on the verge of some career defining opportunities.
"I'm talking to a couple different companies right now of something really big," he stated. "They both have a really big opportunity for me to shine and be seen in front of millions of people.
"I can't talk about anything until the contract is signed, but when it happens, everyone's going to know about it. For all the fans who have really wanted to see me showcase my skills at a higher level -- it's coming -- it's coming soon."
While Richards cannot currently divulge his upcoming activities, he is not hesitant to lock horns with anyone, including the only man to have handed him defeat in his MMA career.
"There's a big list of fighters out there that I'm looking at and I'm excited to get an opportunity to bang with," he said.
"The UFC needs to know that I'm close to heavyweight and I need to get in there and get after Shane Carwin again. I like the guy and I respect him, but my only loss is to him and I want to take it back from him."
With nothing but a fierce urge to further his fighting career, MMA big man Rex Richards looks to make his sacrifices worthwhile and truly put together the kind of run this year that will have his name among the top professionals in the sport.
"I want to say thanks to Furious Fight Wear and Working Class Fighter Fight Wear," concluded Richards. "I have a ton of supportive fans that seem to multiply after every fight. To them I just want to say thanks for being there and supporting me.
"Keep looking forward to the year coming up. I'm going to continue to grow and put wins under my belt."