ABU DHABI // Rick Story might well have been serving as an officer with the US National Guard now, stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Instead, the American, 25, is preparing for a very different kind of battle on Saturday night, one that will take place inside a cage at UFC 112: Invincible on Yas Island. The welterweight, who has lost friends serving overseas, was set to begin officer's school at the start of this year. He had been commissioned as a platoon leader while in university.
He was three fights into his first four-fight contract with UFC when the call came from the National Guard. At the time he was unsure of his future in mixed martial arts. "It was a big decision," he said. "I wasn't sure if I was completely into the fighting. In my three fights I was one-and-two, so it wasn't like I started off with a bang. "I was struggling financially and wouldn't have been struggling if I took the place. But I didn't get the school I wanted, so I gave up that career path and took a chance."
He went on to win his fight against Jesse Lennox at UFC Fight Night 20 in January and was offered another four-fight deal. For now, his plan to stay in southern Oregon and put himself through university for a masters in teaching has been put on hold. He is dedicated to pursuing a welterweight championship title. "I wouldn't be doing this sport if I wasn't planning on being a world champion," he said.
Story is tough but his voice softens when he talks about his love for the sport he hopes will bring him success. "When I learn a new technique, I feel like a little kid," he said. "It sounds geeky, but I feel giggly and I just want to get started." On Saturday he will face English fighter Nick Osipczak, a maths graduate from London who starred in TUF: United States v United Kingdom. He is the next obstacle, and Story is ready to do battle.
"He has a different kind of style; it's not a style I am used to facing. He doesn't seem aggressive, he seems to wait until his opponent gets tired. But I don't usually tire." firstname.lastname@example.org