Mike “Biggie” Rhodes is ready for the big time.

The Roufusport welterweight will step into the Octagon to make his UFC debut on Saturday night in Chicago at UFC on Fox 10. Rhodes faces fellow UFC newcomer George Sullivan on the Fox Sports 1 prelims portion of the card. Fighting on a big card like this and on such short notice might be a big spot for any other newcomer, but Rhodes insists he is ready.

Rhodes (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Rhodes (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

The UFC announced the booking a mere 13 days before the two men are set to step inside the Octagon. It wasn’t a case where the fight had been booked earlier and was just never announced by the promotion. Instead, Rhodes found out about the fight around the same time as the rest of us.

“I was actually back home teaching a seminar in Iowa when I got the call,” Rhodes told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “They announced this Sunday night, right when I got done faxing back the contract.”

Prior to signing on the dotted line with the UFC, Rhodes was a part of the promotion’s unofficial feeder league, the Resurrection Fighting Alliance, as that promotion’s welterweight champion. Rhodes was getting prepared to enter hardcore training for a title defense, but had to jump at the opportunity to fight in the big show. However, he looks at his entire career and realizes that it has helped prepare him for where he is headed now.

“I was fighting on local shows here around Wisconsin. All of those different experiences added to the RFA, it has just been a combination of experiences of all of my fights leading up to this one,” Rhodes explained.

Rhodes fights out of the Roufusport team in Milwaukee. This is the same camp that houses Alan Belcher and the Pettis brothers. Going toe to toe with fighters like that in training has played a big role in Rhodes’ growth as a mixed martial artist.

“Training with those guys is pretty much all I’ve ever known,” he admitted. “I’ve only been fighting for three years, and I’ve been up here for two of them.”

Given that Rhodes is so young, not only in age but in years in the fight game, some might think that Rhodes may not be completely ready to step into the UFC spotlight. Rhodes, however, would beg to differ.

“Having the UFC above your name means nothing in our training room,” he revealed. “We all push each other, and I just think that helped me rise to the caliber of fighting I’m at right now. It has progressed my career a lot faster than it would have if I wouldn’t have had those great training partners and coaches.

“I’ve been ready, mentally and physically, ever since I made that jump to the professional ranks.”

Rhodes will get to test that readiness against another UFC newcomer in Sullivan. With such little time for the two men to prepare, this fight will really come down to who is the better man on that night. Sullivan has more than twice the professional experience as Rhodes and is currently riding a six-fight winning streak.

“He’s a really great kickboxer. So am I. We are going to stand in front of each other and see who can land their strikes and put the other man away,” Rhodes suggested.

Fans will certainly love Rhodes’ mentality and style of fighting. Some might even recognize him from a prior bout in the RFA against fast-rising UFC prospect Brandon Thatch. Thatch put Rhodes away quickly with a submission in the first round. It would be natural that since the two men are fighting under the same umbrella again, Rhodes would have a desire to get a rematch against the man who handed him his only career loss. Rhodes, however, has his focus set elsewhere.

Rhodes (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Rhodes (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

“I don’t hold any vendetta against Brandon Thatch,” he confessed. “If our paths were to cross, I would gladly accept that match-up, but I want to fight fights that are going to get me to a title shot.”

“I just want to be in the UFC for a long time. I never want to see the word ‘vet’ behind my name until I’m retired.”

Rhodes could certainly make good on those goals. He is only 24 years old. Training beside fellow young stars like Sergio and Anthony Pettis, Rhodes could become a cornerstone in a welterweight division that feels fresh and full of contenders since Georges St-Pierre decided to take an extended sabbatical.

“Biggie” was given that nickname by a friend back when he was 270 pounds playing basketball. The dedication to becoming a great fighter has brought Rhodes all the way down to the 170-pound limit of the welterweight division. So, when you see him, you don’t really think of rapper Notorious B.I.G. anymore. Rhodes, however, has embraced the nickname. He has even walked out to some Biggie Smalls tracks before, but he says he has something better planned for his first walkout to the Octagon.

From all of Rhodes’ comments, it is clear that he has been preparing and planning for not only this fight, but a long career in the UFC. That planning isn’t recent either. He’s had all of this in mind for a long time. It all starts against Sullivan on Saturday.

“I’m happy to be here, but I really don’t even feel like saying that. I worked to get here. I expected to be in the UFC.”

As for the outcome of his bout? Well, he already has a plan for how that ends, too.

“With my hand raised.”

Mike would like to thank everyone who has supported him and been behind him his whole fight career. He also would like to thank all of his new fans. In addition, he would like to thank his coach, Duke Roufus, and his management, MMA Inc., for always having his back and putting him in the right places to get him to the UFC. He would also like to thank UFC President Dana White and the whole UFC team for giving him this opportunity. Finally, he would like to thank his mother, Sandra, because without her he wouldn’t be the man that he is today. Follow Rhodes on Twitter: @TeamRocBiggie

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.