In mixed martial arts, it's hard to find a 31-year-old fighter who has over 30 fights, but Rich "No Love" Clementi has more than 40. Clementi has been in the sport of MMA for nine years and has fought in many different shows against some of the best fighters in the world. He's been on an impressive six-fight winning streak and looks to extend that streak to seven at UFC 90 in Chicago against Xtreme Couture fighter Gray Maynard.
Clementi's last fight came at UFC 84 against Terry Etim where he won a decision over the tough Englishman. Self-admittedly taking the fight lightly, Etim pushed Clementi hard in that fight and it taught him a valuable lesson.
"It made me really hungry," Clementi said recently in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio. "That was one of my toughest fights all year and totally didn't think it was going to be. I don't know if it was cutting weight for that long. I had a little bit of a tough time with that fight. I'm hungry and put some size back on. I'm feeling really strong, right where I'm usually am."
The Gray Maynard and Rich Clementi fight has been moved to the main card, which was very exciting news for the Louisiana native. "I'm stoked. Any time you get put on a main card like this, it's a lot of recognition and I've been working my ass off this year. A lot of people didn't get to see some of my fights. I thought my fight with Stout was really entertaining."
In that fight with Stout, Clementi showed some very nice standup skills against a very talented kick-boxer. "I think a lot of people would have a lot more respect for my stand up if they watched that fight. It was the same thing with the Anthony Johnson fight. I'm just excited for people to see me in action and see my improvement in my last two years. I think it's going to be a great fight."
This fight will be a little different for Clementi because the last couple fights he's had have been against tough strikers like Etim, Stout, Melvin Guillard, and Anthony Johnson. Maynard is a very different type of fighter. Primarily a wrestler by nature and nicknamed "The Bully," he relies on his strong grappling skills and size to determine where the fight goes. It may be a different challenge, but it's a challenge that Clementi welcomes.
"I haven't got to fight a guy like Maynard in a while," he commented. "The last four or five guys I've fought in the UFC have been really great stand up guys who are explosive. It's made me a little more hesitant on my feet. With wrestlers I've fought, two out of three of them that I fought, I've knocked out with knees or head kicks. I'm really excited to fight that type of style of fighter."
Maynard had his most impressive victory in his last fight over highly touted Frankie Edgar. Size definitely played a big part in the fight as Maynard was able to muscle Edgar around and proved to be the more dominant wrestler that night.
Clementi is a big lightweight and he doesn't believe Maynard will have that advantage in this fight. "It's real easy when you're fighting a mirror image of yourself when you're a little bigger and you might be a little better in that area. It doesn't give you much to worry about. I'm the exact opposite of him. I'm long; I'm taller. Height makes a huge difference in MMA. And to be honest, I cut down from 185. When people are saying Maynard is going to out-muscle Rich, I just don't think so. I hope that he feels that it will be the case."
Not only does the size advantage go away for Maynard in this fight, but Clementi also has some very strong jiu-jitsu. "I'm going to make him work the whole fight. I feel that when we hit the ground, I'm not a standard jiu-jitsu guy who will sit on his back. I'm going to work standing up. I'm going to work tricky jiu-jitsu stuff."
Maynard trains out of Xtreme Couture, which is one of the best camps in the world. However, Clementi believes that they may be taking him lightly. According to Clementi, Couture has picked against him in almost all of his fights.
"Randy's place has some of the top talent in the world over there and stuff, but at the same token, Randy on his predictions of every one of my fights has predicted me to lose and I already beat one of their guys coming from there, Sam Stout," he stated. "I think to some extent, guys undersell me a bit and I think Randy does too. Hopefully, they'll be a little ill-prepared for me and not give me enough respect in certain areas."
If Clementi is victorious in this fight, it would move him one step closer to the belt that he wants to obtain. He knows he has to get through Maynard to get there. "I want to fight him because I'm hungry for it. I've won a lot this year over guys that people said I should of lost against and did so pretty convincingly. I'm ready for Maynard!"