A spot in the XFC welterweight tournament finals is up for grabs Friday night in Des Moines, IA.
The XFC welterweight tournament rolls on at XFC 44 with an action-packed welterweight semifinal showdown between Canada’s Ryan Dickson (11-5) and the United States’ Bobby Nash (10-4). Both fighters kicked the tournament off with a first round stoppage win and are looking to replicate their performance once again.
Dickson’s 54-second domination of fellow Canadian Mike Hill last November was his first time back in the cage in over five years.
Dickson, 31, said the time away gave him the chance to make some changes in life and as a fighter, and he’s expecting those adjustments to continue to pay off for him.
“I feel like I needed to re-evaluate my situation,” Dickson said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I was one of the best guys that wasn’t in the UFC, but I was losing to the guys who were making it there. Having that time to step back did me some good. I definitely feel like I have some unfinished business in the cage.”
Standing across the cage from Dickson on fight night will be Nash, 31, who looked incredible when he was able to take out the always tough Spencer Jebb at XFC 43.
The victory made it two finishes in a row for the UFC veteran and he’ll be looking for the hat trick on Friday night.
“When you get back-to-back first round wins, you feel good, you’re confident, but you still have to stay hungry,” Nash said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“Sometimes I see guys who go on four or five-fight win streaks and they lose their hunger, but that’s not me. I’m trying to beat Ryan Dickson and win this tournament.”
Dickson looking to show his growth
With Dickson’s win over Hill, not only did he punch his ticket to the semi-finals, but he also avenged a loss dating all the way back to 2014. Dickson said he isn’t the same fighter he used to be.
“Let’s be real, the guys I lost to, I believe, now, I would beat them,” Dickson said.
“I feel like I’m on a different level and I’m glad that I’m finally able to prove it. Before, I had injuries and excuses, but now I have none of that. I’m ready to go.”
Dickson also gave Nash lots of props in the lead-up to their fight.
He said he’s definitely aware of Nash’s skills and credentials, but said he doesn’t think it’s anything he hasn’t seen before.
“Bobby is strong, he might have the edge in wrestling attacks, maybe, but when it comes to experience I train with some high-level guys,” Dickson said.
“Bobby has a good ground game, but I feel like my jiu-jitsu can give me some space to work. I don’t feel in danger there, but on the feet he’s really good. The perfect fight would be knocking him out or breaking him so that he tries to shoot. And he’s good, he might take me down, but I’m either going to get up or I’m going to submit him. Either way it goes I’m finishing him, probably in the first.”
Dickson has been waiting for the chance to prove he can compete with the best of the best and that time has arrived.
He’s expecting a statement win in what will be the biggest challenge of his career so far.
“I feel like when I’m on my game there’s nobody in the world I can’t beat,” Dickson said.
“When I’m preparing for Bobby, I’m thinking yeah he’s dangerous, but I’m dangerous too. I have a lot of respect for my last opponent and I smashed him. For Bobby, it’s going to be the same thing, he just doesn’t have what it takes. Bobby is one of the most decorated fighters I’ve fought and the way I’m going to beat him is going to open some eyes.”
Nash looks to maintain explosive ways
With all but one of his 10 career wins coming by stoppage, you can expect Nash will be looking to give the fans what they want and advance to the finals in style.
“I’ve always been known to be an extremely explosive fighter. I was an explosive wrestler and that’s translated into knocking people out and finishing people,” Nash said.
“With that being said, I am a professional fighter, I want to get the win. But being a pro fighter you also have to be an entertainer, so when I go out there I’m looking to finish people and do it in an entertaining fashion.”
Nash generally holds an advantage in the power department over most of his opponents and, as a former Big Ten college wrestler, he usually has an advantage in the grappling department as well.
Preparing for this specific stylistic matchup is new territory for Nash, but it’s a challenge he’s embraced and he says it’s only made him a better fighter.
“I think he’s very tough,” Nash said.
“I’ve always been the one forcing the action and taking other guys down and here I am in a situation where for the first time I have to worry a bit about being taken down. So this is the first time in my career where I’m putting a bigger emphasis on sprawling, striking and worrying about the takedown. It’s different, but it’s fun because it’s making the other parts of my game stronger. He’s a puzzle and I’m excited to figure him out.”
“All of my coaches and training partners, and everyone who’s allowing us to train under the current guidelines during these crazy times.” Follow Dickson on social media: INSTAGRAM