David Rickels senses the fear whenever he tells someone who he's fighting on Friday in London at Bellator 200.
Michael Page. The guy who is undefeated? The guy who fractured an opponent's skull? The guy with the flashy celebrations?
"That's exactly who I want to fight," Rickels said. "You're scared of that guy? That's who I want. Let me fight that guy."
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Rickels (19-4) will get his chance to play the role of spoiler, as Bellator brings Page (12-0) back to his hometown for his first MMA fight since November 2016. The welterweight bout will be broadcast on Paramount Network at 8 p.m. Central time on Friday in a tape-delay broadcast in the United States.
Many view Rickels as the stiffest challenge to date for Page.
"I guess I am going to be the spoiler because I'm going to ruin his name," Rickels said. "I'm the most violent primate in the game and he's going to learn that. I've been around forever. I fought everybody in this game and my only losses are to the best in the game. I don't think people are giving me the respect I deserve. This is a great fight to do that."
Rickels was fighting with the best lightweights on the Bellator roster from 2013 to 2015, highlighted by a fight for the lightweight championship belt in 2013 against Michael Chandler. He lost that match, but Rickels' name was always in the discussion among the best.
He feels like some have either forgotten about him or written him off. Still only 29, Rickels believes he has another run at a belt. A win over an undefeated fighter and one of the top welterweights would vault Rickels up the rankings.
"When I (beat Page), everybody is going to know that Rickels is back," the Derby graduate said. "They're going to know I"m back on the radar. I want to put my name rightfully where it belongs, with the OGs and the greats."
Since Page hasn't fought for more than a year, Rickels hasn't devoted much time trying to guess how Page will fight in his return. He has made adjustments to prepare for the reach of the 6-foot-3 Page, completing most of his training camp in Wichita at the JMTK gym with Andy Zerger and Chris Harris.
"The only little adjustment I've made is picking a bigger, taller, longer sparring partner," Rickels said. "I had guys who were 6-5 with 80-inch reach. I wanted to see that reach and get used to that range. But my timing and everything feels impeccable right now."
Rickels has never been known as a fighter to take his time.
That won't change, even against an opponent like Page.
"Every one of my fights are entertaining because of my will to kill," Rickels said. "I'm going to put a lot of pressure on him and volume on him. You definitely aren't going to see me shooting no double legs. We're going to stand up and we're going to trade."