(‘I wonder if anyone back home has gotten a haircut.’ *sigh*)
Most guys who end up on The Ultimate Fighter come from humble circumstances. When they first walk into that kick-ass awesome house, with its cool décor, stocked-to-the-tits bar, built-in pool, rock star hot tub, etc., they’re in complete awe because not only is it an impressive pad by any standards, but it beats the living shit out of the dank basement or the room at the Y they just crawled out of. Mike Ricci, on the other hand, was not all that impressed.
But then again Mike Ricci isn’t your average TUF’er. He’s a rare commodity in MMA: a bonafide metrosexual. If his clean cut “accountant” appearance didn’t strike you as unique on the very first episode, then the first time the cameras gave him any significant non-fight related time surely must have left a lasting impression.
He was sitting at the dining room table, eating a very proper looking dinner, enjoying a glass of red wine. Red wine isn’t exactly the preferred drink of a young MMA fighter, and if they do drink it it’s from a colored party cup and comes out of a box and is the only form of alcohol in a 20 mile radius that won’t kill you. He also made an inference that no one in the house was on his intellectual/cultural level. In retrospect, it’s hilarious that Michael Hall was sitting next to him, trying to form a bond when it’s so obvious now that Ricci considered him a vulgar creature that needed to be stamped out of his social scene.
When his partner in style, Rory McDonald was featured on Road to the Octagon to hype his fight with BJ Penn, Ricci was given significant attention in the segment as Rory’s metro-mentor of sorts. The cameras followed them around Montreal as they train together, hang together, and shop together, even delving into an incident where they almost came to blows over a pair of red pants. Must I further expound on the red pants thing to validate Ricci’s metrosexual cred?
Ricci recently spoke to The MMA Hour (transcription via BloodyElbow) about how horrific his time in the house was:
“It was an absolute nightmare, I wanted to sue for psychological damage, I wasn’t the same person. I actually thought I had a case, ‘I’m not the same person, I can do this and win.’ But, I felt like don’t get me wrong, I knew what I was getting into I knew how I was going to react. Even some of the producers in the house toward the end were like, ‘Geez, you’re the most institutionalized fighter we’ve ever seen, we’ve done 11 seasons and we’ve never seen anyone like you, you’re like a robot now.
I was taken away from my family and from my friends and from life, you literally, you vanish, you’re gone, there’s no sign of you whatsoever. Its almost like to everyone in the outside world you’re dead and you’re gone. There’s no sign of you whatsoever. And, things like for instance I didn’t know what was happening with my people on the outside, it was upsetting, people had gotten new jobs or changed their hairstyle or experienced different things I missed out on, it iust upset me. It still upsets me to this day.”
Even for all that pretension he proudly exudes, I like that Ricci doesn’t fit the typical mold of a young fighter. He’s an anomaly in a sport rife with stereotypes – most of them justified. And he’s a pretty good fighter too.
Ricci will face Colton Smith this Saturday at the TUF finale. So where do you stand on this peculiar young man? You rooting for Ricci? Or do you want to see his arrogant ass get smashed through the mat? And perhaps the most important question: How chic can a fellow be if he doesn’t even have a fuckin’ Wikipedia page?