Mike Richman: All I can do is knock out Nam Phan and hope I get a title shot or move closer to one

The opening fight of the Bellator 131 main card on Saturday night from the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California will be a bantamweight bout as Mike Richman meets former UFC fighter Nam Phan.Mike Richman

Richman (17-5) dropped down to the bantamweight division in September and made an immediate impact as he defeated former tournament finalist Ed West by knockout in the first round.

The knockout victory for Richman was his eighth career win by knockout and five of those have come in Bellator. When talking about his bantamweight debut, Richman stated that it was a bad matchup for West and he knew what he had to do to get the victory.

“My bantamweight debut just wasn’t very good for Ed West,” Richman said. “It was really a bad style match up and I knew how to exploit it, so I just executed. Against a striker like Ed West who rarely ever goes for takedowns and doesn’t really have technical or powerful punches, I could get in the pocket, smother his ability to hit and do a lot of damage. That was the case.”

He will now look for his second victory in the Bellator 135 pound division when he meets Phan on Saturday. Since his exit from the UFC, Phan has won back to back fights and both of those victories have come by stoppage in the first round. Richman is well aware of the strengths of Phan and appreciates the style Phan brings to the cage.

“Nam Phan has a great chin, he likes to box and throw punches in bunches,” he said. “He’s a bit of a plodding-type fighter and he rarely goes for takedowns. He’s scrappy on the ground but he doesn’t really have a great shot on his takedown. I’m just a really bad match up for him unless he changes up his style, and that’s hard to imagine because he has over 30 fights and he tends to fight the same way. And the way he fights will not be good for him against me.”

“I appreciate the technique of Nam Phan’s style and he’s a nice guy, but he doesn’t always stomp on the gas to hurt people or go for the finish. He’s going to get a rude awakening because I’m going to show him a different level of boxing in MMA. I’ll out-box him. Don’t get me wrong – I might shoot in or throw some kicks too, just to show that I’m well rounded. But if he stands in the pocket with me, it will be clear who has the advantage or who has more skills on the feet.”

When it comes to how Richman plans to win, it’s no different than any other fight he has, he plans to finish his opponent by knockout.

“I can sum up my complex breakdown of this match up like this: I’m going to knock Nam Phan out on the feet,” Richman said. “C’mon now. We know what I’m going to do. I’m going to knock him the f–k out. I realize he’s crafty and that he’s been fighting bigger guys throughout his career, but let’s be serious. I’m going to get in his face and try to knock him out. Should he try to be more fleet-footed and hop around instead of standing in front of me? Sure, he should. But, will he? I don’t know. He’s got that plodding style so we’ll see what happens.”

A victory over Phan would be the next step for Richman securing what he wants, and that is a title show in the Bellator bantamweight division. The tournament structure is gone in Bellator, but Richman knows that a statement victory over Phan would send a statement to Scott Coker and Rich Chou.

“It’s pretty easy to list the top bantamweights in the division: Joe Warren, Rafael Silva, Marcos Galvao and L.C. Davis, who’s got a nice win streak at bantamweight,” he said. “If you look at the very top contenders, I think it’s me, Galvao, L.C. Davis and Dantas. Then there are guys like Joe Taimanglo and Rob Emerson who can catch people on any given night. I get that Rafael Silva missed weight the first time because it was short notice, but I don’t get him missing weight this last time. That doesn’t look good. All I can do is knock out Nam Phan and hope I get a title shot or move closer to one.”