Training with a bevy of top-tier talent creates a number of results that ultimately benefit a contender. For one, it breeds competition and helps mold the type of one-of-a-kind competitor that uses that training to create the skill set necessary to compete in their division. For another, it motivates people to excel in ways they never thought possible before, not only as a competitor, but also as a person.

Dickman (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

Dickman (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

Resurrection Fighting Alliance prospect “Tricky” Mark Dickman knows about the effects of training with top guys. He has done so at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., prior to getting into MMA. Alongside eventual UFC alumni Jonathan Brookins, Mike Rio and Josh Sampo, Dickman won a NAIA wrestling title at 149 pounds in 2007, the same year that Rio won the 159-pound championship. Did Dickman’s motivation to excel come as a surprise to anyone? Perhaps it did to those without an idea of what to expect from the man, but those who knew how the Lindenwood wrestling squad pushed themselves, as well as the caliber of young men that represented the school in that sport, weren’t surprised.

“Being in that type of wrestling room where you’re going to be going against top-level guys all the time, every day, I just think it breeds competition and pushes everyone to excel,” Dickman explained. “When I was on that team, sometimes we’d have a short-change with a group of wrestlers, four national champs in one group. There was anxiety going to practice.”

The anxiety itself, on some days, stemmed from the pressure and desire to perform as though they were competing in a national championship bout. Still, the opportunity those men received to be molded in the fire ultimately helped them, because it could only push them to be the very best they could be. Seeing what Brookins, Rio and Sampo accomplished since then gave Dickman motivation to succeed in the sport of MMA.

With a 4-0 mark as a pro fighter, he arrived in the RFA for the promotion’s very first show, where he debuted successfully against Ted Worthington. Following the second-round TKO win, the then-undefeated Dickman went on to battle fellow unbeaten prospect Jordan Rinaldi at RFA 3. The two engaged in a bloody contest and both men left the cage with a true respect for each other, though Rinaldi ultimately claimed the win by unanimous decision. Despite a performance that appeared to wake the MMA world up when it came to his talents and skills, Dickman flew a bit under the radar after the loss to Rinaldi, which gave “Tricky Mark” a different motivation to excel in his career.

“I think people are sleeping on me because of the loss to Jordan,” Dickman explained. “Jordan fought his fight. I didn’t fight my fight that night when we fought, and he was a better-prepared man that night. And he came away with the win, but he lost his next two.”

Rinaldi would go on to drop a decision to Jared Downing, as well as suffering a third-round submission loss to Brian Ortega. Dickman, meanwhile, posted a three-fight winning streak. Of course, MMA math doesn’t always add up, but that didn’t stop anyone from overlooking Dickman on the basis of Rinaldi’s recent skid. It also hasn’t stopped anyone from picking Raoni Barcelos, the undefeated 7-0 prospect that faces Dickman at RFA 14 in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Friday.

“I think a lot of people are picking Barcelos to finish me and do it quickly,” Dickman said. “But not if I have something to say about it.”

Dickman (top) (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

Dickman (top) (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)

Barcelos comes in on the heels of a solid RFA debut against Tyler Toner, and he carries a knack for finishes, which is a common trait that many easily find in RFA prospects. The former Shooto Brazil standout also owns experience in the wrestling department, having competed for the Brazilian national team. Dickman knows Barcelos can attack him from anywhere, and if he ever needs a clear idea of where Barcelos is coming from, he can go to his jiu-jitsu coach Sergio Penha, who trained with Barcelos’ father.

“I think they come from the same lineage of BJJ,” Dickman explained, “but I don’t think his father was near the competitor that Sergio was. When I see his game, he wrestled on the Brazilian national team, so he’s got some wrestling, which is better than most Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu players. A lot of them could play on their back and not really worry about the takedowns, but I think he’s a top-game guy, just like myself, He likes to be on top. He doesn’t like to play on bottom, but I think American wrestling is going to beat Brazilian wrestling any day. Whether he’s winning or losing the stand-up war, he’s going to try to go to the ground either way.”

If Barcelos finds himself unable to best Dickman in the stand-up realm, he won’t stand and trade for the sake of standing and trading. In fact, when talking about the ground game or the striking of Barcelos, Dickman knows only one way to get the “W” on Friday, and that’s his way. He won’t try to make it seem like an elaborate plan of attack, because he trusts his skills and does everything he can to ensure that they pay dividends towards long-term success.

“This is how I see it, I try to keep it as simple as possible. I’m not afraid to stand with anybody and I’m not afraid to go to the ground with anybody, but I’m well-prepared everywhere. If his hands are down, he’s getting punched in the face. If he keeps his hands up, he’s getting taken down. That’s the bottom line. So, whatever he gives me, I’m going to mix it up and I’m going to take it.”

Mark would like to thank One Kick’s Gym, Sergio Penha Jiu-Jitsu, his training partners, sponsors, everyone that helped him out for this fight and his girlfriend. Follow Dickman on Twitter: @TrickyMMA

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.