When Saturday night rolls around, there’s no question revenge will be on the mind of Daniel Richard.
Richard (5-3) will look to defend his BFL amateur lightweight title against CJ Strongheart (4-2) in a rematch at BFL 58 on Saturday night.
In the first meeting at February Fury in 2016, Strongheart caught Richard in a kneebar in the fourth round to claim the lightweight title.
Since that defeat, Richard, 23, said he’s improved immensely in all areas, and is confident he’ll be the one with his hand raised and the belt around his waist this time around.
“In the first fight, I was winning the grappling exchanges, I was definitely winning the striking, and ultimately I just gassed out. But that’s not going to happen again,” said Richard in an interview.
“It’s been a few years since we fought and I’ve grown a lot since then. I don’t think he’s improved nearly as much as I have, so it’s going to be a long night for him.”
Although he felt he won the grappling battle, Richard said he recalls Strongheart being a skilled grappler himself.
He said he didn’t see much to be concerned about from Strongheart in the striking department, and fully expects a similar strategy from him as in the first meeting.
“I haven’t seen him fight since I fought him, but I’m assuming he’s going to bring the same grappling style,” said Richard.
“His striking wasn’t very good, so I’m really not worried about that.”
Since falling to Strongheart, Richard, fighting out of Richmond, B.C., has a victory over Matt Lepper to win his BFL title, as well as a muay thai win.
And while he said he’s improved drastically in all areas of MMA, Richard said he’s also made big strides physically.
“The biggest change is definitely my athleticism,” said Richard.
“I was basically a kid when I fought him, and I feel my athleticism has developed a lot since then.”
Strongheart Expecting Repeat Performance
Despite earning the win in the first meeting, Strongheart, 32, said there were a lot of areas of his game he wanted to improve on, most notably his boxing.
Strongheart, fighting out of Saik’uz First Nation, said immediately after the fight was over, he was picking it apart and figuring out where he needed to focus on.
“I felt like my boxing really suffered. I had a good kicking game, but my boxing just wasn’t as clean and I wasn’t comfortable being in that mid-range zone,” said Strongheart in an interview.
“Since then, I’ve just been spending a lot of time getting better at that martial art. I’m looking to pick up more tools to help me feel as natural as I can in that situation.”
In addition to training out of Tristar in Vancouver, Strongheart said he’s been putting a lot of work in this camp with former One FC champion Bibiano Fernandes and former UFC fighter Jeremy Kennedy.
While he does all the work he can in his hometown, Strongheart said he makes the long drive south to work with Fernandes and Kennedy to ensure he’s getting the absolute most out of his training camp.
“We drive down every two weeks to get that high-level training with those guys,” Strongheart said.
“They’re able to critique and tell us what we really need to work on, then we take that back up north, keep the conditioning high, and really just work on the pieces they gave us.”
Strongheart said he’s expecting Richard to rush after him similar to their last meeting, but said he’s made adjustments for that.
He said he knows Richard is going to want to get in there and scrap, and said he relishes in that opportunity.
“He wants this fight. He wants to get back at me,” said Strongheart.
“I grew up on a reservation. I’ll show up and throw down because that’s how I know how to fight.”
“I always want to say thank you to my coaches Karm-j Manhas, Bibiano Fernandes, Kajan Johnson, and my one sponsor in Prince George, Reflex Supplements.”