Ricci Ready for Stiff Test Against Healy at PFC 2


Alex RicciAt 19 years of age, most of us had few responsibilities. Chasing girls at the bar or battling the urge to sleep until  noon are the wars we waged on a daily basis, and nothing else much mattered.

Ontario born Alex Ricci had five years of Muay Thai training and three years of professional fighting under his belt by the age of 19. His priorities were focused on kicking faces as opposed to kissing them, and unlike so many of us, he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

“I want to be considered the best fighter that ever lived,” proclaimed Ricci. “This has been my passion since I was a really young kid. This is what I do. This is what I’m all about it. I’m striving and working every day to achieve those goals.”

Just shy of his 20th birthday, Ricci decided he needed to relocate. He knew he wanted to fight professionally and would need a world class training regimen to make it happen. With few possessions in hand and his desire to be great, Ricci left his friends and family behind and boarded an airplane to Thailand. He spent three years in the land where their love for Muay Thai can only be compared with the Canadian craving for hockey, perfecting his craft and working himself ragged.

“The culture was so rich.  It really humbled me to see the people and how the fighters lived, and the reasons why they competed,” explained Ricci. “For them, it was a way of life, a way to feed their families. These kids started with Thai fighting professionally at the age of 10. By the age of 20, they’ve had 300 pro fights. To fight against people that need to win to feed their families, it was a very humbling experience. Now that I look back, I’m so grateful for those experiences. It was a great time.”

It was those experiences that helped Ricci excel as a martial artist. He competed in 35 bouts while in Thailand before the constant repetition and training took its toll and he was burned out. When he came back to Canada, his friend and manager Robin Black took him to visit an MMA gym for the first time and, as they say, the rest is history.

Now 7-1 as an MMA fighter, Ricci will co-main event this weekend’s Provincial Fighting Championship (PFC) card in London, Ontario. His opponent will be well-travelled wrestler Ryan Healy.

Ricci taking on Tim Smith (photo: Mike Fischl)

Ricci taking on Tim Smith (photo: Mike Fischl)

It’s the kind of fight that, on paper, does not favour Ricci. Ricci is an accomplished striker who prefers to keep things standing, slicing opponents with slick elbows and pummeling them to the body and head. As we have seen so many times over the past 12 years, Healy has a smothering presence that has suffocated many young fighters’ dreams of grandeur. Ricci’s only loss was to the well-rounded Jesse Ronson, who used a game plan not that different from what would be expected from Healy.

Then again, maybe it’s the perfect fight for Ricci. Healy appears to be on the downswing of his career and it could present the perfect opportunity for Ricci to show off his improved wrestling and grappling against the preeminent Lightweight gatekeeper outside of the UFC. Healy has lost three of his last four and five of his last eight bouts and may be right where Ricci wants him.

It’s been nearly a year since we last saw Ricci inside the cage and he has not squandered that time. A disappointing tryout for The Ultimate Fighter (one he says he “passed with flying colours,” but his “mind went blank” during the interview phase) has only motivated the 31-year-old fighter to continue training and getting better.

If the motivation of a possible big league debut later this year (Ricci laughingly said he “maybe, probably” will be fighting Jason Saggo on April 19 at World Series of Fighting Canada) is not enough to keep him motivated, perhaps Healy’s trash talk is. In a recent interview, Healy went out of his way to say that “He (Ricci) has had an easy ride in the fight game and been brought up slowly.” Ricci, never much of a trash talker, adamantly disagrees.

“I don’t think that’s true,” he explained. “I’ve fought a lot of tough guys. I don’t pick any of my fights. My manager (Robin Black) does that. I will fight anyone, anywhere, anytime. This is a business. Not a lot of opponents want to fight me either.”

On Saturday night, Healy and Ricci will both have the opportunity to do their talking in the cage. Whether or not Ricci has been on an ‘easy ride’ will be put to the test at PFC 2. With a win over a dominate wrestler, Ricci can legitimize his transition from Muay-Thai to mixed martial arts and put himself near the top of the list of non-UFC lightweights.

“After winning this fight this weekend, I might be getting the call,” Ricci said excitedly. “There are not too many top Canadians out there other than (Jason) Saggo. I’m just being patient. I don’t get involved in politics, I just do my thing.”

17 Responses to “ Ricci Ready for Stiff Test Against Healy at PFC 2 ”

  1. what says:

    I’d love to see shane Campbell vs alex ricci in mma….. that would be cool

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  2. Jon says:

    That’s not true alex was training bjj before he met robin black. Robin did not show him mma

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  3. Jon says:

    And alex in a mma fight will beat cambell alex has much better wrestling and grappling he will take cambell down

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  4. Robin Black says:

    When I took Alex to check out some MMA in late 2008 and really look at the whole game, he definitely had done like 10 or 15 BJJ classes. He, like, owned a gi.

    I just knew, with his desire to learn everything about Martial Arts, that he would love the whole MMA game. It would fuel his desire to learn the complete fight game and try to be the best.


    This is going to be a weird one. I’m commentating a fight between my guy and one of my favorite fighters.

    I’ve commentated guys I’ve worked with or guys who are like family before, but never against a guy I look up to and am a fan of as much as Ryan.

    I’ve watched Mike Kogan and Pat Miletich call fight with their guys and I’ve learned from them how to do it unbiasedly and with class.

    All you can do is try to call it as objectively as possible. Tell the full story as honestly (and poetically) as you can.

    I am definitely going to start the chat with my broadcast partner Reed by fully telling the viewers that Alex is like family and I’ve worked with him and managed him throughout his career and that Ryan Healy and his brother have always been 2 of my very favorite fighters to watch.

    If I start with honesty, and call the fight with the genuine enthusiasm that I have about the beauty of this match-up, the rest will take care of itself.

    I pledge right now to commentate this to the very best of my ability with true unbiased passion.

    This fight deserves the best call possible.

    I’m so excited!

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  5. Jonce says:

    Hey Robin good luck on commentating the fight! I wish Alex the best of luck and hopefully will see him in the gym before! Is love to see Alex vs Saggo. That would be great!

    Well-loved! Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  6. Robin Black says:

    Thanks so much my friend. Appreciate that, really.


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  7. Jon says:

    Alex was training bjj since early 07 with joey scardemligia and rob dicenso and at Vito gym is old boxing coach

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  8. Jon says:


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  9. Robin Black says:

    DiCenzo is awesome and Joey is THE MAN.

    Alex has trained with Joey a ton over the last few years too.

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  10. Jay says:

    Wasn’t Alex suppose to be on the kickboxing version of the contender?

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  11. Jon says:

    Robin I love you but by late 2008 there’s no way alex ricci only did 15 bjj classes. He didn’t train bjj everyday because he was still competing in Muay Thai, but he had waaaaaay more then 15 classes by late 2008.

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  12. Jon says:

    Alex koed Jesse miles in the final of the Canadian contender Asia tourney, but mike mikes (Jesse mikes father) over turned the contest because he was always a big corrupt loser

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  13. Robin Black says:

    Thanks man.

    Well he was a white belt and when I rolled with him at Stables’ place he was still a beginner. I was a decent blue belt then (no better today really) and he was very very green.

    Now he handles himself extremely well on the mat with very elite guys.

    He always loved Martial Arts and explored plenty of them before anyone put the bug in his ear to pursue MMA that’s for sure.

    I don’t mean to be any kind of distraction. Alex did this interview I guess that’s what he told Shawn.

    I certainly don’t claim to have contributed anything to Alex other than helping him find some fights so he can show his skills and being a close friend.

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  14. Shawn W. Smith says:

    Alex told me that you (Robin) introduced him to mixed martial arts.

    Whether or not he had done some BJJ classes seems irrelevant to what Alex said about MMA. Training Muay-Thai and BJJ is different than training for MMA.

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  15. Robin Black says:

    I’m so excited for this fight.

    Both Ryan Healy’s fights for The Score were in my Top 10 favorite calls I’ve ever gotten to do.

    His toughness and grit are inspiring. And his skills are applied so viscerally.

    Alex put together a great match up.

    It’s about 60 hours away and I’m already wound up.

    If you’re in Ontario get tickets and come out!!

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  16. Robin Black says:

    That’s extremely humbling to hear that Alex said that about me.

    He’s so passionate about the game, it’s such an enormous part of his life, and it makes me proud to think I played a role in that.

    Well-loved! Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  17. Jon says:

    Fighting mma was always at the back of his mind and he wasn’t consistent with his grappling because when ever he had a thai boxing fight he would stop training it and resume once he competed, I think the turning point was the contender Asia when he was robbed the dec he was fed up of the corrupt ness (I don’t think that’s a word) of Canadian Muay Thai and foucused 100% on mma

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