NEW YORK – Undefeated light heavyweight and four-time U.S. National Judo Champ and 2004 U.S. Judo Olympian, Dr. Rhadi Ferguson (2-0), will face John Richard (3-1) of Camden, S.C., in a featured match on the STRIKEFORCE Challengers Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight card presented by Rockstar Energy Drink this Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, at Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., during a Free Preview Weekend live on SHOWTIME® at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
The 6-foot-1, 28-year-old Richard (pronounced “ruh-shard”) is a replacement for Canada’s Ion Cherdivara, who withdrew from the card late Tuesday due to visa problems.
Richard, a talented, explosive wrestler, has made short work of his opposition in his three victories, winning all in the first round. In his last outing on Oct. 23, he submitted (choke) Steven Banks at 1:19. In his outing before last on Aug. 28, he got Ryan Bedini to tap out via rear-naked choke at 3:38.
Since turning pro on April 24, 2010, Richard has mostly campaigned as a 230-pound heavyweight. This will be his long-awaited return to 205 pounds.
“In my last couple fights I was outweighed by 30-40 pounds, so getting back down to 205 is a big deal for me,’’ Richard said. “I’m really looking forward to fighting at this weight and excited to get the opportunity to step up and showcase my skills. I’m extremely grateful to STRIKEFORCE for getting this chance.
“You’ll see. At 205, I’m one of the biggest and strongest at this weight around.’’
Despite the short nice, Richard is confident he can manufacture what many would consider a major upset.
“I know about my opponent, but I’m in fighting shape and as ready as I can be,’’ he said. “I will definitely not be in awe of him or the atmosphere. In fact, I am totally calm.
“I’m strong on the ground and I feel my standup is decent. I am looking forward to a great fight.’’
Richard, who wrestled at Limestone College in South Carolina, trains at two gyms in South Carolina – the Revolution and Linic. He is married with one child.
A member of America Top Team (ATT) in Coconut Creek, Fla., Ferguson is the only athlete to compete in the Olympic Games, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) World Championships and the Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling World Championships.
Tickets for the STRIKEFORCE Challengers event are on sale at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium ticket office, all Ticketmaster locations (800) 745-3000 including Kroger and FYE, Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) and STRIKEFORCE’s official website (www.strikeforce.com). The first non-televised, undercard fight on Jan. 7 will begin at 7:30 CT. Doors will open at 7.
Other televised fights: Undefeated Tyron Woodley (7-0) faces hard-hitting Tarec Saffiedine (10-2) in a highly anticipated clash between rising welterweight (170 pounds) stars, unbeaten, up-and-coming heavyweight prospect and U.S. Olympic wrestling star Daniel Cormier (6-0) meets Devin Cole (18-8-1), former University of Tennessee linebacker Ovince Saint Preux (9-4) will be opposed by fellow quickster “Abongo’’ Humphrey (7-2) and promising Julia “The Jewel’’ B