Injuries, cancelled fights and constant shuffling of fight cards is very common in the world of mixed martial arts.  This is something that is more common with smaller promotions rather than big ones, but UFC fighter Rich Attonito has had this happen twice recently with the world’s leading promotion.

At “UFC Live: Kongo vs. Barry,” Attonito was preparing for Matt Brown and ended up taking on Daniel Roberts.

Then, about a month ago, after preparing for Claude Patrick, “The Raging Bull” was informed that he would instead be taking on UFC newcomer Jake Hecht.  Under the circumstances, a lot of fighters might get a little frustrated because each and every opponent is so diverse when it comes to their abilities, but Attonito has a positive outlook on the situation.

“It’s one of those things, it happens.  It’s happened to me enough times before I got to the UFC and it is one of those things that happens in the fight game,” Attonito told The MMA Corner.  “People get hurt and drop out and spots have to be filled.  It doesn’t effect me at all, I’m training to fight on that date and be prepared for whoever and whatever, so it doesn’t make a difference to me. I’m just happy that I’m fighting.”

He has known that his opponent would be Hecht for a while now and even though Hecht has never fought in a major promotion, Attonito said it was not too difficult to research his opponent.

“YouTube and the internet is a great thing these days and [Hecht] has plenty of fights on YouTube and some other websites,” Attonito explained.  “I’ve got to see almost half of his fights and most importantly, the most recent one.”

From watching the video of his opponent in action, “The Raging Bull” spoke very highly of Hecht.

“He’s a tough, gritty guy,” Attonito said. “He’s aggressive, he likes to dictate the pace of the fight and likes to take his opponents down.  You have to expect him to be there and that he will be there every minute of the fight unless you put him away.  Guys like that can be dangerous.”

But Attonito still thinks he is the better fighter.  He goes back to his days at Hofstra and recalls when he was a collegiate wrestler, garnering a set of experience and skills which have carried over to MMA.

“I believe in my wrestling, I believe in my grappling and I believe in my striking,” admitted Attonito. “I just have to go out and execute.”

This Saturday, Attonito will fight for the second time in his career as a welterweight.  He spoke of the days where he was still new to the sport, had little desire to cut weight and fought at 205-pounds because of it.  After having success early on and realizing that MMA was something he wanted to pursue, he thought it would be best to cut weight and fight at middleweight, the weight class he spent his time at while on The Ultimate Fighter.  But middleweight wasn’t the end of the weight cutting for the man from New Jersey.

“I knew it was time to drop down to welterweight,” Attonito said as a result of his loss against Dave Branch last December.  “170-pounds is my optimal weight class.  I knew I was better sized for welterweight.  I feel great here and am excited to fight my second fight [at welterweight].

“Once you get to the elite level of the sport, everyone’s coming into it their biggest, their strongest and the best version of themselves.”

“The Raging Bull” said that when he consulted UFC matchmaker Joe Silva about dropping down a division, Silva told him, “At this level, every inch and every pound can make a big difference.”

As far as fights go inside the Octagon, the American Top Team fighter has won five times, including amateur fights on The Ultimate Fighter, and lost only once.  Normally, people with that kind of record would have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder if they were still stuck near the bottom of the card, but not Attonito.

“I don’t mind being on Facebook,” confessed Attonito.  “Would I prefer [my fight] be on Ion TV? Of course.  Would I prefer to be on the main card? Sure.  That’s where I want things to go for me.” But he realizes that if he continues to do his job and performs well, that day will eventually come.

But when it came down to it, he sounded happy that his fight was being streamed to Facebook due to the still relatively new ability of being able to watch an entire card if you’re not in attendance.

“It’s great.  Now my family can watch the fight,” Attonito said. “Whoever of them and my friends who cannot make it [to the venue] can watch the fight.  I think its awesome and am very excited about that.”

But, just because the technology is there doesn’t mean that it will be able to reach everyone.  He did mention one fan who will likely not be tuning into his fight.

“My grandmother, who is 94-years-old and doesn’t have the internet!” joked Attonito.

But that is where the joking ends. Facebook, Ion TV and pay-per-view are the least of his problems.  “The Raging Bull” has a task at hand and is not interested in any other fight on the card but his own.  It is clear that he has put in the time and effort to be the best possible fighter as he heads to Canada for his fight at UFC 140 this Saturday.

Attonito would like to thank his team, American Top Team, along with the people at The Institute of Human Performance for getting him ready for the fight.  He would also like to thank his sponsors: Jaco Clothing, West Coast Authentic, Training Mask, Swole Sports, and PerfectingAthletes along with everyone at ML Management Group.

Top Photo: Rich Attonito (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.