On February 23, Richie Smullen will seek to bounce back from his first professional loss.
EMG recently spoke with the lightweight prospect about his upcoming fight with Poland’s Adam Gustab on home soil at 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland, at Bellator 217. The Arklow-native, who recently signed with the promotion, said he’s exceptionally motivated for his debut.
“This fight means everything to me,” he said. “I’m coming off a loss – my first professional loss.
“I’ve been in the gym training non-stop since my last fight.”
Last July, Smullen was submitted via guillotine by fellow Ultimate Fighter alumnus Luis “Violent Bob Ross” Pena. Having now tasted defeat, he described a refreshed mentality and attitude towards his fighting career.
“I have a new form of love for the sport now. I have a different type of hunger. I’ve invested a lot more effort and I just feel hungrier than ever. Ready to go.”
Another skilled product of Straight Blast Gym, Smullen said the biggest change he’s made in his camp was a more diligent work ethic.
“I’m not doing anything different, I’m still doing the same classes three times a day. It’s just the effort. I’m putting more in – I can see the bigger picture now.”
However, the game plan will remain the same.
“I’m going to hit him, push him to the fence then take him down and try submit him. My game plan isn’t going to change, no matter who I fight.”
That plan is validated by his record. Smullen (3-1) is somewhat of a submission specialist, with two professional victories by heel hook and a further four submissions in his amateur record. Despite this, he believes he is more well-rounded than his upcoming adversary.
“To be honest, [Gustab] looks like a tough guy but I’m just better all round.”
Gustab (3-3) will be making his Bellator debut also. Although he enters the bout after two-straight losses by stoppage, the former featherweight may see rewards in moving up a weight class.
Having signed a four-fight contract with Bellator, 27-year-old Smullen told EMG he is looking to have an active schedule this year.
“This year is a busy year. I’m on a four-fight contract and I’m looking to have my fourth fight by year’s end. I’ll make myself a household name”.
Bellator 217 will feature a stack of SBG talent, including headliner James “The Strabanimal” Gallagher, who will also look to rebound from his first career loss, against Steven Graham.