"The mean doesn’t come in until I’m in the cage. It really doesn’t. Right after a fight I’m laid back and happy again." - Rick Story
Few fighters have the art of being mean down to a science like Rick Story does. No, he’s not a mean mugging expert, a trash talking savant, or someone who has that kind of demeanor outside of the Octagon. On the contrary, he’s one of the most approachable and laid-back athletes on the roster. But put him in a fight, and he’s someone you don’t want to meet up with.
“I don’t know what it is, I just get in there and I’m on a mission and there’s nothing that’s gonna stop me from it,” said Story. “Some people have different nervous responses when they get in there and get hit. When I get hit, I want to attack. I don’t necessarily always get angry, but I always feel compelled to hit back harder whenever I get hit.”
And if he starts tagging you, the end of the fight is going to follow soon after or you’re going to be in for a long and unpleasant night. Neither option is appealing, especially when the 29-year-old is walking you down every step of the way.
That approach has led Story to nine UFC wins since his debut in the organization in 2009, and while he’s had his off-nights and losses over that time frame, he doesn’t consider himself a finished product – not by a long shot. And with trips out of town to Montreal’s Tristar Gym and to San Francisco to work with Jake Shields over his last two camps, Story is getting the new looks that will only make him scarier in the coming months and years.
“It’s definitely very important,” said Story, who still proudly represents his Brave Legion team in Vancouver, Washington. “Not only does getting new looks help me get better, but it also keeps me excited too. It’s cool going out and learning new things and not being in the same old routine.”
Yet strangely enough, Story’s trips out of town over the years have had him working with old foes like Johny Hendricks and possible future opponents like Shields and Rory MacDonald. Most would consider that odd, but Story doesn’t see any problem with working against people he may eventually fight.
“It’s business,” he said. “We can be friends at the end of the day, but at the same time, we’re not giving anybody new information. I fought quite a few times and there’s a lot of film out there on me. If we train together, I’m going to be learning stuff about the person that I would possibly fighting, but they’re also learning about me too. If it’s even in the room, it’s gonna boil down to who wants it more on fight night.”
He’s right. So when he was approached about fighting another welterweight he trained with briefly, unbeaten TUF 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum, he didn’t hesitate to sign the contract for the UFC 171 bout, which takes place this Saturday in Dallas. > Watch: Rick Story subs Brian Foster
“He poses a threat,” said Story of Gastelum. “He’s definitely trying to climb the ladder, and he wants to establish his name, so that way he keeps the ball rolling from The Ultimate Fighter. I respect him and he’s a nice guy, but I’m going in there to take him out. I’m not taking him lightly.”
In other words, he’s got the mean ready to go this weekend.
“The mean doesn’t come in until I’m in the cage,” he laughs. “It really doesn’t. Right after a fight I’m laid back and happy again.”
And if he can follow up his punishing November win over Brian Ebersole with an equally impressive outing against Gastelum, this may be the year Story fulfills the potential he’s hinted at all these years.
“I’m feeling more composed and more set in my ways when it comes to my ability and being able to fight,” he said. “So I’m feeling good about this year and feeling good about my skills. I’m excited to see what happens.”