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MANILA, Philippines – Even if BJ Penn’s unexpected return to active competition is seen as a cause for celebration to some, he has a tough opponent ahead of him with young and hungry fighter Ricardo Lamas ready to devour the mixed martial arts (MMA) legend.
Lamas, a 34-year-old Chicago native who has an MMA win-loss slate of 16-5 and is currently ranked No. 4 in the UFC featherweight rankings, will share the Octagon with Penn in the main event of UFC Fight Night Manila 2 on October 15.
Lamas’ prizefighting résumé might not be as stellar as Penn’s legacy in the sport, but “The Bully” cannot be counted out as he is known for his never-say-die attitude and relentless pace inside the cage.
As he takes on perhaps the most high-profile opponent in his 8-year professional career, here are some key facts that die-hard MMA followers may or may not know about Lamas.
10. Wrestling is Ricardo Lamas’ foundation.
Lamas got a formal introduction to martial arts through wrestling as he was part of Elmhurst College’s team from 2001 to 2005.
During his collegiate wrestling stint, he racked up over 100 wins in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, where he became a two-time champion and received the “Most Outstanding Wrestler” citation during the 2003-04 season.
Lamas also earned All-American honors at the 2005 NCAA Division III men’s wrestling championships as a 157-pound competitor.
9. Ricardo Lamas is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Penn got his nickname “The Prodigy” for receiving his black belt in less than 3 years, which was considered an extraordinary feat in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Even though his legendary foe is well revered in the grappling department, Lamas fused his collegiate wrestling pedigree with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, earning his black belt from longtime practitioner Daniel Valverde.
Valverde, a 4-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu state winner and a No-Gi world champion, awarded the black belt to Lamas in December 2013, which was a few weeks prior to his first career championship bout against Jose Aldo.
8. Grappling is Ricardo Lamas’ bread-and-butter.
Lamas’ ground game has been his primary arsenal throughout his gutsy run in both UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), with 14 submission attempts.
Ten of those 14 attempts have been guillotine chokes, which Lamas used to force Dennis Bermudez to tap when they squared off against each other in November 2014.
In 7 of his 8 UFC/WEC matches, where he managed to convert one takedown, Lamas was able to walk out with his hand raised.
7. WEC was Ricardo Lamas’ first home.
Lamas, who has been in the UFC for 5 years, made a name for himself in the international combat scene through the now-defunct WEC organization, an MMA promotion that focused on the lighter weight classes.
The Lemoore, California-based company noticed Lamas after a 5-fight winning streak in minor MMA leagues and gave him a spot in March 2009’s WEC 39, where he defeated Bart Palaszewski via unanimous decision.
After his WEC debut, Lamas became a mainstay in the MMA outfit and competed in 5 more bouts, only losing twice in his nearly two-year tenure.
6. Ricardo Lamas is proud of his Latino heritage.
Although he was born in the United States, Lamas has always been proud of his Latin American heritage.
Lamas’ father is Cuban, while his mother is Mexican. The flags of these two countries are often imprinted on his trunks during his fights along with the American flag.
5. Ricardo Lamas’ motto: ‘Never give up.’
Lamas has 5 career losses in his current MMA record, with 3 coming by way of knockout and two via decision.
However, “The Bully” takes pride in the fact that he has not tasted a submission setback in his prizefighting run.
Having a 30% takedown accuracy rate according to Fight Metric statistics, Lamas owns 4 submission triumphs to complement his 4 knockout victories.
4. Ricardo Lamas started as a lightweight.
Before becoming a household name in the featherweight division, Lamas strutted his wares in the 155-pound weight class, where he had a 9-2 standing with two knockouts and two submissions.
In his last match as a lightweight, Lamas yielded to Iuri Alcantara via first-round knockout under the WEC banner in December 2010.
3. Ricardo Lamas earned a title shot after 4 straight wins as a featherweight.
When WEC merged with the UFC in 2011, it signified a new beginning for Lamas, who decided to transfer to the featherweight division.
Lamas ended up winning his first 4 assignments as a featherweight, including a second-round submission win against Cub Swanson in November 2011 and a second-round technical knockout of Erik Koch in January 2013.
His remarkable winning streak led him to a championship clash with Jose Aldo in UFC 169 in February 2014.
Lamas’ present win-loss card as a featherweight is 7-3. He recently suffered a unanimous decision defeat to Max Holloway last June.
2. Ricardo Lamas bowed to Jose Aldo.
In the first title tilt of his career, Lamas fell short versus Aldo, who effortlessly retained the UFC featherweight championship with a unanimous verdict.
Aldo pitched MMA’s equivalent of a shutout for 4 rounds, battering Lamas with exquisite multi-punch and multi-kick combinations.
Lamas’ lead leg took a beating as the Brazilian uncorked his trademark low kicks with venom and vigor.
Aldo put his rarely seen ground game on display in the fourth round, where he surprised Lamas with a takedown and jumped to mount before moving to the back for an unsuccessful rear-naked choke.
1. Ricardo Lamas’ alter ego: ‘The Delirious’ Conrad McGillicutty.
Lamas is one of the many MMA combatants who took a swipe at reigning UFC featherweight kingpin Conor McGregor, but he took it to another level.
With the made-up persona identified as “The Delirious” Conrad McGillicutty, Lamas poked fun at numerous aspects of the 28-year-old Irishman’s personality.
According to Lamas, McGregor was apparently not a big fan of his alter ego when the two men met each other.
Ran into my friend conor on the elevator. Apparently he is NOT a fan of Conrad McGillutty…. Seems like the delirious one is in his head— Ricardo Lamas (@RicardoLamasMMA) January 17, 2015