On Wednesday, March 19, Bellator MMA lightweight fighter David “The Caveman” Rickels took time to call in to The Fuller Fight Factor LIVE, hosted by The MMA Corner staff writer Justin Fuller. Rickels, a previous Bellator lightweight tournament winner, is scheduled to fight Patricky “Pitbull” Freire on Friday, March 21, as the co-main event at Bellator MMA 113 in Mulvane, Kan. This fight will serve as the opening round of the season-10 lightweight tournament.

Despite coming up short against then-champion Michael Chandler in July 2013, Rickels was able to score a third-round TKO over J.J. Ambrose in October to guarantee his placement in the tournament. This put him in a favorable position on the card. His reputation as a previous tournament winner makes him a heavy favorite to go all the way.

Rickels (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Rickels (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“Just like Wichita State is in this March Madness going on, I’ve got a tough bracket, and I don’t think there’s honestly any easy fights in Bellator anymore. Those guys do a great job of making fights that are fireworks, and ours certainly has the making out to be one. You know, those are the kinds of fights that I thrive and aim for, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Rickels on the podcast.

“The Caveman” also secured a new seven-fight deal before commencing this season’s tournament. Although he wasn’t able to get as lucrative a deal as someone like Eddie Alvarez, he seems very content with what was offered.

“I’m in it for the long haul with Bellator. They’ve been treating me right, and that’s kind of really all I care about is being treated right and getting good fights,” said Rickels, who has no regrets about the deal, but still thinks things could have been handled differently. “I probably should have [shopped around]. I’m not the best businessman out there.”

“I probably should have had some counter offers, kind of like [Gilbert Melendez] did,” he added jokingly. “At the end of the day, I’m not too upset about it.

“I’m not a cheap ass, but I’m also am not a stickler either. I realize that I’m fist fighting for money, so this is something I have to do. I’ve got a good deal with Bellator, and, shit, the tournament itself is the cash that it is. It’s $100 grand.”

As a fighter with the ultimate goal of winning the title, Rickels knows bigger paydays could be on the horizon, and he sees the Alvarez and Melendez situations as something to aspire to rather than criticize.

“[Viacom] has their reasons they throw that kind of money at those guys, and I want to be that guy,” Rickels admitted. “I don’t think I’m quite there yet. I think Bellator definitely sees the value in me. They’ve treated me great, so I know that they do. Re-signing [in the future], more money could be on the table.”

Never one to look past his current opponent, Rickels is more than aware of the current landscape of the division and understands the challenges that follow even with a clean sweep of the tournament. When the discussion shifted to his thoughts about waiting in line for Will Brooks and Dave Jansen to face the winner of Alvarez-Chandler III, the response was candid and direct.

“Absolutely,” said Rickels about his willingness to take on one of the other tournament winners. “My plan is [to] win the tournament and then call those guys out so we can just get it out of the way.”

Rickels is unaware of any discussions officially taking place within Bellator about contingency plans or how to manage the multiple No. 1 contenders, but he knows that when a fighter has to wait for a lengthy period of time in between fights, it can do more harm than good. So, when pressed, he expressed his opinion and hope that a resolution can be reached.

Rickels (Wilson Fox/Sherdog)

Rickels (Wilson Fox/Sherdog)

“At this point, it has got to be something they’re considering,” he said. “I think it would just boil down to the fighters accepting that. I’m a game guy. If I want it, why the fuck not? Who really knows who would take that kind of thing. It all boils down to the politics of it, and I’m sure paychecks as well.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to get paid for this sport. And sitting around for that long really sucks, especially when you’re a guy like me who doesn’t have too many other [employable] qualities. It would suck for those guys to wait around that long and not get any fights.”

The move to Spike TV has been profitable for Bellator fighters all around, and Rickels is no exception. As a fighter who tries to fully embody the persona of his moniker, the appeal to sponsors has definitely paid off.

“When you walk out with dinosaurs and Flintstone cars and you’re a social-media mad man, like myself, sponsors are kind of easy to come by,” said Rickels, whose walkout antics have become a staple of his brand. “I earn my sponsors by what I do out there. I’m not a bland fighter. I’m an entertainer first off. Guys like myself, it might be a little easier than others.”

Rickels, unfortunately, has nothing planned for his fight this Friday. However, he is hoping to make a big splash if he makes it to the finals of the tournament.

“I can’t pull out my tricks at the beginning of the tournament. I do have some goals, which is get to the finals and then have an extravagant high-end walkout.”