Florida’s Mike Rio entered The Ultimate Fighter: Live as one of the season’s favorites. With a strong wrestling base that includes two NAIA national championships, he was poised for a strong run on the reality show.

After a dominant performance in the elimination round against Ali Maclean, Rio was forced to cope with a nagging knee injury for the majority of the season. Coupled with the fact that he fell short against Andy Ogle in the round of 16, the fighter’s three-month long experience proved to be anything but what most expected, and he’s in no hurry to do it again.

“I was extremely happy to get out of that house,” Rio admitted to The MMA Corner. “Looking back, if I were asked to do it again (for three months), I wouldn’t do it. If it were shorter, possibly. Get in, get out: wham, bam, thank you ma’am.”

Rio’s sentiments are understandable to anyone who watched the show. The show’s length was grueling and took its toll on the fighters. That may be a factor in why the UFC is returning to its previous format of a six-week long taped version of the show. But the lightweight isn’t making excuses for his performance.

Rio (facebook.com/mikeriomma)

“I’m not blaming anything on the knee,” declared Rio. “Truthfully, it bothered me a lot. Regardless, as an athlete, a fighter and someone as competitive as I am, I should have found a way around it.”

And it wasn’t just his knee that hindered Rio during the course of the show. He also suffered two broken ribs. While he was able to fight through the knee injury, the ribs kept him from competing at the show’s finale. However, his days with the promotion are far from over.

“Uncle Dana (UFC President Dana White)—the awesome dude that he is—said that both (Andy) Ogle and I will get a chance to prove ourselves on a UFC card and earn a contract,” Rio explained.

Despite falling short and dealing with multiple injuries, “The Wolverine” was reinvigorated by his time on the show and training with bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

“The biggest thing I took from the show was something that I lost a long time ago—the focus,” Rio said candidly. “When you are young and hungry, you are constantly focused. You have that drive and nothing bothers you. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve coasted a bit on talent. I feel like the whole experience has refocused me and I can channel my energy toward fighting.”

Additionally, Rio was reminded of another important factor of his past by Cruz and his teammates: overtraining. Or, at least the myth of it.

“A lot of athletes and people throw around the word ‘overtraining.’ When I was in wrestling, we never overtrained,” recalled Rio. “We trained so hard, there was no thought of overtraining. We were just nasty. That’s how Dominick runs his practice. There is no such thing as overtraining. That’s a crutch you can lean on so you don’t have to go to practice and take it easy.”

As Rio nears his 31st birthday, he knows that although the title of Ultimate Fighter winner has eluded him, his window of opportunity is still very much open. And when the UFC calls to schedule his next fight, he’ll be ready for it.

“I relearned that when you’re in there, you give it your all,” said Rio. “When I was younger, I had it. I’m going to shift my priorities around and focus 100 percent on fighting.”

Top Photo: Mike Rio (facebook.com/mikeriomma)

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