Marcel "Swift" Stamps returns to the squared circle on Friday, April 30, when he meets "The Marine" Mike Richman as part of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship's BKFC 17 fight card. The event takes place at the Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama, live on the BKTV APP, (9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT) in addition to globally on FITE PPV.
Stamps, a former Alabama Crimson Tide Linebacker, with a bare knuckle record of (2-1), returns to his natural light-heavyweight weight-class following a valiant challenge against BKFC Heavyweight World Champion Joey Beltran at BKFC-13 on October 10, 2020. The two victories that Stamps recorded previously came by way of knockout.
Fighting successfully in numerous, high level MMA organizations and sporting a 2-0 record as a professional boxer, Mike Richman will be making his long awaited BKFC debut as he hits the squared circle against hometown favorite Stamps in the first round of the 175lb. Division Quarter-Final Tournament.
Richman was extremely respectful of Stamps in his pre-fight interview, calling his future foe an "uber athlete," but whether the two competitors respect each other or not, Stamps realizes Richman is standing in the way of his dreams.
"I guess that's one of the things that I get plenty of with everybody," Stamps said about Richman's comments on his athletic prowess. "They (people) really don't know because when I'm training three times a day, they aren't there. They don't know the person who I've become, because when I came into this fight game about five or six years ago.... If I showed you when I first started, there's no way you would have thought that this guy (Stamps talking about himself) would ever fight, because what I thought I knew, it definitely wasn't what fighting was about."
While Stamps fully admits things didn't start off well in the beginning, and it took time to adjust, he will tell you that it wasn't easy. The dedication that the 35-year-old fighter from Alabama put into his craft began to pay off, and it showed.
"I spent, you know, almost a year and a half, driving two-and-a-half to three hours, just to train at the gym," Stamps said. "I was actually trying to learn the game and I think because I got in this so late because I was playing football, that my hunger to try to learn and and pick up more things is higher than a normal guy that's been doing this about 15 to 20 years. So it's not that I'm just the athlete, but I put a lot of time into trying to mold and make myself a better fighter overall. And it's just one of those things that I developed from Coach (Nick) Saban and being around a lot of other five star guys in college. That made me want to always not have this little, I guess, chip on your shoulder to feel like the poor me's, like you always have to work for what you want to have. I was around so many athletes that it made me have to work that much harder every day, all day."
Stamps knows that experience doesn't always translate over to success, but having that fight IQ could be the world of difference.
"As far as him (Richman), I don't know much about him," Stamps said. "I've seen him fight quite a few times. I actually I think that BKFC loves giving me all these guys that have like a million damn fights. He's one of those. He got a lot experience. With me only having four or five years in this, I think that about 75% of my fights have been against guys with a lot more experience. So that has been the biggest tool and the biggest asset to me, because I've learned how to be the co-main event and main event with these big guys that have been in the game a long time.
"That allowed me to tail off of them, and look at some of the things that they do and correct the things that I did bad as an amateur. So, it is a blessing to have competed against a lot of these guys that have had a lot of fights. He (Richman) has been around, fighting for quite a while, you know, Bellator and UFC ( Ultimate Fighter), boxing. So you look at him and a lot of people probably think like, 'Man, you don't really know the name in some aspects but if you go back and look at his resume, he's a guy that's been doing this for quite a while and is successful at it, so I'm enjoying it. It's definitely gonna be another challenge for me, and I'm always up for challenges."
Although Stamps may have been putting his foot to the metal to try and get his combat sports career launched in the right direction, Richman has been just as active over the years.
"I think he (Richman) has almost 30 or 40 fights," Stamp said. "So his experience and his exposure, and him knowing how to prepare, I think is an advantage for him overall just because he's been doing it for so long. And that's probably why they (BKFC) pick me to be one of the guys to fight these guys with a lot of experience. I'm not a veteran in this game right here but I've been with them since their second show. I'm one of the few that can say, 'Hey, I was on the first the second fight card.' I've learned the ropes a little bit more. I think he's pretty fast, pretty quick. He definitely likes to come in and make his presence known. For me, I don't change up anything that I've been doing. Just go in and be comfortable and have fun. When you have fun, it makes everything a lot easier."
Stamps, who has gone back and forth between MMA and bare knuckle competition, believes that he has found more of a home in the gloveless sport.
"I definitely do man," Stamps said. "As I say, 'I'm a striker. I love to strike anyway.' So it made it a lot easier of a choice for me. I got to jump back and forth to MMA when I first started doing this business because they (BKFC) were trying to figure out their whole roster and they was trying to grow and and I wasn't as active as I wanted to be fighting . I was like 'Hey, I got into this. I've been doing it at the time three years. I want to stay as busy at fighting like every day if I could. So that was the thing of jumping back and forth is this for me staying active. I don't like to sit up a long time unless it's like some kind of injury or something like that. I'm training every day. When I'm actually in training I want to be able to fight at any time. So with that doing that I'm like, 'Man, I want to reward myself, you know for training everyday because I'm sitting here busting my ass every day just to make sure that I'm sustained. If that time comes where an opportunity presented itself, I can jump in there and people will think like 'Oh, he hasn't been training. He's not ready.' But I am. I was just trying to stay active just overall just because I sitting out.
"I definitely prefer to the BKFC over just about anything, MMA, or anything because it is a lot less that you have to worry about. Even though I still do like wrestling, jiu-jitsu and all that stuff because I'm trying to be overall like fighter period, but it definitely helps a lot to not have to focus on like all of those other aspects of fighting the MMA brains, you know having to do boxing, having to do muay thai, having to do jiu-jitsu, having to do wrestling, having to do all these different elements that can happen in a fight. So it makes it easier definitely as far as the taken BKFC fights because it is basically striking and learning how to clinch and have good movement."
With bare knuckle competition solely on his mind, Stamps has set out a few goals for himself.
"For me, when I leave this sport and I'm done, my biggest goal that I want to accomplish is that I want to try to do my best to be a double title holder in a couple weight classes, maybe three if I can. I want to be known as as one of the greatest to do this, like one of the guys that is hard to prepare for. I want to be the guy that no matter what weight class, no matter what, I was a hard guy to fight. I want to bring the pain man and make everybody that fights me, leave and say, 'Hey, that was one of the toughest guys the hardest, guys I've fought.' I want to be known as the greatest to ever fight in BKFC. I want to be known as the guy who takes risks and is one of the most athletic and skilled competitors the sport has ever seen. A bad ass SOB. I just don't give a damn. I always put on a show and no matter the challenge, I'm always going to step up and take it."
Headlining BKFC-17 is a monumental heavyweight clash between Dillon ‘Bad Boy’ Cleckler, (2-0, 2 KO’s), of Pensacola, Florida and Josh ‘The Hammer’ Burns, (1-0, 1 KO), of Dearborn, Michigan.
Remaining tickets for BKFC-17 can be purchased at BKFC.com. The Boutwell Auditorium is located at 1930 Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Boulevard, Birmingham, AL 35203. Doors will open on the night of the event at 6:00 p.m. CT with the first bell at 7:00 p.m. CT.
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