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Inside Richie Lewis And Conor McGregor’s Five-Week Camp | UFC Fight Pass

Richie Lewis Has Dominated Almost Every Facet Of Combat Sports. Now, After Establishing A Working Relationship With Conor McGregor, The World Is About To See Richie Lewis 2.0.

Since winning his world title in wrestling, and his NCAA and JuCo days, Richie Lewis has always been a little different from everybody else. A little more gritty, a little more polarizing and a little more special. After leaving wrestling for MMA, he’s found a way to top himself yet again, in true Richie Lewis fashion.

MMA was always the plan for Lewis. Success in wrestling was the avenue that would propel him to the upper echelon of the sport, along with some words of wisdom from one of the biggest names in the sport just before Lewis was able to hit the ground running.

“When I first started fighting, Henry Cejudo gave me some really good advice,” Lewis said. “I did a two-week camp with him down here in Miami and he put me on game. He told me, ‘Do not rush your career. You’re a really talented wrestler, do not rush this thing.’ He is the greatest combat sports athlete to ever live and that’s something I really took to heart and a mistake I’m not going to make.”

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Two-and-a-half years and three fights in, the work and patience has paid off.

Lewis is gearing up for his LFA debut with a championship-caliber wrestling pedigree, Cejudo’s words of wisdom, and the friendship and partnership of MMA’s biggest star, Conor McGregor.

Lewis flew to Las Vegas for a five-week training period with McGregor in place of a roster spot on The Ultimate Fighter. Wanting to blaze his own trail to the UFC, Lewis was able to have his cake and eat it too when Audie Attar, manager of both McGregor and Lewis, invited Lewis out to train with the “Notorious” one at the UFC Performance Institute, despite declining an offer to potentially be on Team McGregor on season 31 of TUF.

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Conor McGregor of Ireland prepares to fight Dustin Poirier during the UFC 264 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Conor McGregor of Ireland prepares to fight Dustin Poirier during the UFC 264 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“It's definitely the beginning of a life-changing opportunity,” Lewis explained. “This is what I’ve prepared my life for. They called me a bunch to actually be on The Ultimate Fighter, but I want to create my own path and I have a much better path that I’ll unveil pretty soon. Obviously, we’re working together on it with my team.”

For five weeks, Richie thought he was to be flown out to help with wrestling and act as another body in the room. Little did he know when he got there, he would be a much bigger piece of the training room and Conor would view him as much more than just a skilled wrestler who could give him the grappling rounds needed to sharpen up his wrestling.

Conor didn’t view Lewis as just another training partner. Conor would help Lewis almost as much as Lewis was sent out to help him.

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“I was there the first week training with Conor and it was kind of like, ‘Whoa. You’re ready right now.’ They weren’t expecting me to be at the level I was,” Lewis laughed. “They weren’t ready for it but then we were rock-solid partners and I think you’re going to see me do a lot more stuff with Conor. I trained a lot with his coaches. We did a lot of sparring, obviously. I thought I was going to be doing a lot of the helping, but it turned out Conor was helping me a bunch. He showed me a bunch of stuff and it was an opportunity of growth for myself. Of course, I showed him some throws and stuff, and some wrestling.”

You hear it all the time that it’s never safe to meet your idols because, more often than not, you’ll be disappointed. Lewis assures anybody who looks up to McGregor that he’s the last person who will let you down. Even with all of the superstardom and fame that could go to his head, McGregor treats everybody like he's still just a scrappy kid in Ireland.

“I got to see the real side of Conor and I got to see that he’s a really good guy,” Lewis said. “He’s a really good dude. He’s humble, he takes care of his people and I hope I can continue to work with him. That’s all I can wish and that’s all I can ask for.”

Conor McGregor | The Ultimate Fighter Highlights
Conor McGregor | The Ultimate Fighter Highlights

From the outside looking in, it seems like a very random partnership caused from a giant gust of luck and “right place, right time” circumstances, but Lewis explains the collaboration between he and McGregor was years in the making. Since he first decided to venture into MMA, the end goal was the Conor McGregor formula, break through the “famous fighter” mold and break into the world of celebrity, business and superstardom.

Two years before he completed his wrestling career, Lewis met with Paradigm about a wrestling to MMA transition, and the entire company agreed that when Lewis was finished on the mat, they’d welcome him with open arms.

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For years, Lewis has done the impossible, keeping his eye on the task at hand knowing that a much higher form of success awaited him on the other side. Taking things day by day, challenge by challenge, instead of distracting himself with what’s waiting down the road has officially paid off.

He knew he would be a household name in the fight game, Paradigm knew he would be a household name in the fight game, and now he’s sharing the cage with Conor McGregor. The payoff to hard work isn’t quick; it’s a sweet, slow burn and it’s all beginning to pay off for the Jersey kid.

Michael Chandler Talks Fighting Conor McGregor
Michael Chandler Talks Fighting Conor McGregor

“I’ve been waiting, I’ve been patient, it’s been hard financially, and on my mind,” Lewis said. “Not getting the credit I feel like I can be having by going in right away and it’s all paying off. It’s going to pay off right now. I always say ‘soon’ but soon is now.”

Five weeks with McGregor and a plan to be in the UFC by years’ end would make it difficult for most people to focus, but Lewis has his sights fully set on his LFA opponent and knows that he’s only a small splash away from beginning a journey the fans may not be ready for.

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“That’s the next step and that’s the only thing that matters. I’m training to be a world champion and we’ve been doing that for two-and-a-half years but, for right now, what’s in front of me is this LFA fight. The person who’s in front of me right now, it doesn’t matter who it is, he’s my next challenge. I have to perform the way I think I’m going to perform if I am who I think I am. If one thing happens, everything is out the window. What’s next is almost most important. I’m very mission-oriented and I learned this from wrestling; the only moment that matters is the one you’re in.”

The next step of the journey begins at LFA 156!

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