SBG Ireland’s Richie Smullen Talks Fighting for Double-Champion Attempt at RFP 88 and UFC Redemption Goals
Video interview with Richie Smullen above
SBG Ireland fighter Richie Smullen (8-2-1) has the opportunity to become a simultaneous two-division champion under the Real Fight Promotion banner this weekend, and he’s hopeful that this will be the next step in his journey back to the UFC Octagon.
Already the Real Fight Promotion featherweight champion, having beaten Igor Grytskiv (8-5) via 2nd-round TKO last October, Smullen is moving up a weight class. The former UFC and Bellator fight is set to take on undefeated Miroslav Dushnyuk (5-0) for the 155lbs title in the main event of RFP 88, which will take place on Sunday 20th February in Kolomyia, Ukraine.
In 2018, Smullen was selected to compete on Season 27 of The Ultimate Fighter. However, injury would force the Irishman out of his first-round matchup against Allan Zuniga (and thus the competition itself). While he didn’t compete on the show, Smullen was matched against Luis Peña in the TUF27 finale card, making his UFC debut. It was to be a short-lived stint with the world’s leading MMA promotion though, as Smullen lost via 1st-round submission and was not given another opportunity with the UFC.
Following the loss to Peña, Smullen signed with Bellator, amassing a 3-1 record before parting ways with the promotion. He would then go on to fight twice for RFP, notching back-to-back finishes, securing the 145lbs title, and is now primed to collect a second strap. Now 6-1 since losing his UFC debut—with his sole loss coming via Split Decision—Smullen is ready to make another run at the UFC, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get there.
“That’s my ultimate goal [fighting in the UFC]. I think it’s everyone’s ultimate goal, realistically. They’re the Premiership, if you look at all the rankings. People say other promotions pay the same. It’s not all about the money, it’s the rankings as well. I view the UFC as the Premiership. That’s the biggest league in the world (in football terms). That’s where I want to be. I want to get back there. I want to try my hardest trying to get back there so that I have no regrets. That’s where I’m at now is just fighting my hardest to try to get back to the UFC” Smullen told MyMMANews.com.
Ahead of his bid for a second title, Smullen has signed with notable MMA management company, SuckerPunch Entertainment, led by Brian Butler and Bryan Hamper. With the help of a proven management agency, Smullen is hopeful that the road back to the top organisation in the sport will become a bit more visible.
“I’m hoping after this fight, I’ll have more of a path.” Smullen explained.
“I’ve fought everybody that was asked of me. We’ll see what’s next. I’ll have to speak to Brian [Butler] about that and see what’s next. I did tell them my goals when I signed for them. The UFC is my goal. So hopefully I’m touching on the door,” Smullen added.
As far as the now 30-year-old fighter is concerned, he’s willing to fight anyone and everyone that will take him that step closer to his dream, including competing on Dana White’s Contender Series:
“I’m going to give it one really good shot now to try to get back in and get that win in the UFC. That’s my main goal. [Whether it’s] the Contender Series. Whatever show they tell me to go to, beat this guy/that guy, that’s what I’m going to try and do. That’s all I can do!”
“You’re either good enough to win and get to the UFC, or you’re not!”
“I feel I’m good enough now. I think I’m going to beat this guy on Sunday, make a big statement, hopefully finish him nice and early. Then, who knows! Look for it. I’ll be ringing Brian Butler of SuckerPunch Entertainment straight away. Get me in there. I’ll bail them out for 145lbs on March 19th. [UFC London]”
First, Smullen must overcome undefeated Ukranian Miroslav Dushnyuk, who has finished all but one of his fights in the first round. Smullen is confident heading into battle and believes that he is on another level to the fighter who competed at the TUF 27 finale:
“I feel like now I’m just going for it. Watch my last two fights, I just went for it. This one will be the same. The second that bell goes; I’ll be going for it. Even more so now I think, I feel more confident than ever.”
“I’m going to take him down and show him what real grappling is. He’ll be in for a rude awakening!”
As far as a prediction for the fight goes, Smullen is open-minded to how he gets the job done on Sunday night in Kolomyia, Ukraine, but he’s expecting a third finish under the RFP banner:
“I’m thinking maybe a head-and-arm choke from mount or ground and pound. They’re my main successes this camp. If I grab that head and arm, he’s going to sleep. There’s no doubt about that. If I don’t get that, I’ll be punching til I get that. He’ll give me the choke, or I’ll stop him with punches. One or the other.
“I’m coming to finish him in this fight! Take him down, get mount, and then we’ll see what happens. If he shows me his back, I’ll take his back as well. I will be on top, that’s all that matters!”
Richie Smullen vs Miroslav Dushnyuk will take place on Sunday, February 20th, in the main event of RFP 88. The card will be broadcast live on the RFP YouTube channel.
Andy Stevenson is an MMA writer, interviewer, and occasional podcaster based in Dublin, Ireland.