Ricardo Ramos: Mental Strength
Ricardo Ramos had just turned 14 when he first began training in the art of jiu-jitsu; he was introduced to the practice by a friend of his father and he explained that the gym let him train for free in exchange for helping out around the place with cleaning and other jobs where required.
At 15 years of age he decided to pursue the life of a fighter – leaving education and other job prospects behind in a full pursuit of a career inside mixed martial arts. He explained although it may sound like a tough choice from the outside-looking-in, it really wasn’t a difficult decision after all. ‘I moved to the gym full time and I was certain that my choice was to be fighter for the rest of my life. I had bad times with no food, money or support but I knew it would make me stronger and make me the fighter that I am now’ he said.
Ricardo was presented with the opportunity to train others in exchange for payment on the side, but he turned the opportunity down, believing that he needed to entirely focus on his life as a fighter if he were to succeed. ‘I said no because I wanted to do it the hard way. It’s hard to become a fighter in Brazil so you need to use all of the hours in the day’ he explained.
Ramos had his first opportunity to enter the UFC back in February 2016 when he appeared on ‘Dana White’s Lookin For a Fight’ series, but he, unfortunately, lost to Manny Vasquez via a first round rear naked choke. Looking back now, he said ‘On that fight, I was so nervous, I was 19 years old, the promotion told me that Dana White was watching and if I performed well then I could get to the UFC. The pressure was a lot for me’.
The pressure had clearly told and this was the first and only setback so far in the career of the 23-year-old Brazilian. Not willing to give up that easily, Ramos identified the issues that he had felt in his loss and sought the help of psychologists and mindset coaches to help ensure he never suffered the same fate again. ‘After my loss, my mindset coach asked when I wanted to enter the UFC and I told them within 5 or 6 years I can be there. They told me they respect my opinion but they thought I could do it far faster. He said he thought I could do it in 1 year and so we went with that’ he recalled.
Now revamped and full of confidence, Ramos had the chance once again to pave his way into the UFC through the very same show; only this time, Ramos would be the ‘opponent’ and the man in the opposite corner would be looking to tread on his toes as he stepped into ‘the big show’. He reversed the fortunes of his previous defeat and so beat Alfred Khashakyan via a second-round rear naked choke. ‘I was completely different, when I started the work with them (his mindset coach), he said ‘you remember Dana was there to watch you fight last time, you remember the pressure? Now it’s reversed and all the pressure is with him. You are one step away. It changed my vision for the fight and made a huge difference. Now every fight I see my opponent as the one with all the pressure’ he explained.
The goal he had set with his mindset coaches had come to fruition and it was exactly one year to the date of his first loss that he made his UFC debut, defeating Michinori Tanaka via a unanimous decision.
Moving on from his UFC debut, Ramos was booked to face Aiemann Zahabi at the prestigious Madison Square Garden. Speaking on the experience, he said ‘To be honest, when I arrived in New York I was very excited but I had no idea of the history with MSG, I saw some movies with Muhammad Ali and other big famous guys fighting there but I had no idea we were there. Only on the week of the fight, I was told that Ali and Tyson fought there and it made me focus even more on my fight’.
Ricardo defeated Zahabi via a third-round spinning back elbow and earned a ‘Performance of the Night Bonus’ (If you’ve not seen the knockout, then check out the video below and you won’t regret it). Having won the bout and had a moment to reflect on just how far he’d come, Ramos explained ‘I said ‘fuck yeah’ that’s what I’ve worked for all my life’.
Ramos defeated Kyung Ho Kang via a split decision back in August of this year and was booked to face Ricky Simon next month but unfortunately, injury has ruled him out of competing for the time being.
When asked what motivates him to compete, he explained ‘I want to be the Champion and show the people that you should always believe in yourself and to never give up on your dreams. If you stop when you first fall on bad times then you’ll never make it to the good times’.
We will have to wait to see who Ramos will face next, but he has called for a fight previously with Sean O’Malley which we could certainly get behind. But until then, just re-watch his spinning back elbow a few more times.