Tony Reid – You worked closely with Frank Mir ahead of a number of fights throughout his career. What is it like working with a cerebral guy like Mir? Can you share a Frank Mir story with us?
Ricky Lundell – “Frank Mir is an incredible athlete to work with. He’s so talented and he is very cerebral. In the MMA world he is one of the most knowledgeable fighters in the game. I think that’s why he does such a great job as a commentator as well. He is so good at explaining every area of the game. Some guys aren’t cerebral at all, you just have to beat it into their muscle memory and they will react. Where somebody like Frank is completely the opposite. If he doesn’t know why it’s happening that way he wants to know. He will ask question after question until he understands.
“One thing people may not know is that Frank has to be one of the most genuine and good guys you will ever meet. Frank was my assistant coach over at Bishop Gorman High School. He gives back to the community, he is in there coaching 15, 16, 17 year old kids and trying to help them achieve their scholastic goals. We were at our regional tournament. In the final one of our kids started bleeding. When that happens you have to take blood time. Well, Frank runs over with a spray bottle and starts spraying the mat cleaning up the blood. All of these people in the stands were shocked. There is Frank Mir out there on his hands and knees cleaning up this kid’s blood. Regardless of wins or losses I am happy to have coached that man.”
Tony Reid – Being in such high demand working with the elite of the elite, how do you prioritize who to work with and when as far as scheduling and the workload you take on?
Ricky Lundell – “I train anywhere from two to three top ten fighters in the UFC at any given time. Even the up and comers. The other day when we were in Albuquerque I did nine hours of training straight. Sadly in the last year or so I have had to turn people down. It’s tough, I would like to train and help everybody I can. There is only so much time in the day. If there is a guy in there just looking for a paycheck I may be out of their price point anyway. I feel like those kind of guys wither themselves out of my inner circle anyway. If the person is a good person. If they have passion and they are working hard and they are in the UFC they are the kind of person I’m after.”
Tony Reid – From everything I gather you are pretty much a legit prodigy…You were the youngest black belt in American history at age 19. What are your thoughts looking back at that time in your life and that experience? Also you were wrestling at Iowa State without prior wrestling experience. Talk about being a walk on at one of the biggest wrestling powerhouses in the world with no previous wrestling experience. In the classical combat sports sense you did it in reverse, learning BJJ first then moving to wrestling. Most athletes in the sport find themselves doing the opposite. What would you say were the benefits and maybe the drawbacks, if any, of doing it the way you did?
Ricky Lundell – “I have to say the route I went from jiu jitsu to wrestling was the best thing I have ever done in my life. It gave me a full understanding of jiu jitsu first and then going over to wrestling after I developed those skills it gave me a different take on the game. Going to wrestle under a coach like Cael Sanderson was a huge part of my personal success. In my competition career I went 152-5. Internationally I was undefeated at 78-0. I was on Team USA three times. Combining my technical background in jiu jitsu with the very technical and deep knowledge of wrestling with Cael Sanderson that was what made me a force to be reckoned with in the competitive field.”
Tony Reid – You enrolled in college at age 15 graduating college at 18, the time most kids are graduating from high school. What was your college experience like? Did you (or do you) get many Doogie Howser references?
Ricky Lundell – “Actually I got the Doogie Howser thing a lot. When I first started training Frank Mir he was calling me the Doogie Howser of MMA. It caught on for a while. I had Lorenzo Fertitta calling me Doogie Howser every time he saw me for about two years. I don’t know if he even knew my real name. He just called me Doogie Howser.”
Tony Reid – You are the head coach at Bishop Gorman, the high school wrestling powerhouse in Las Vegas. I see numerous pics and posts showing the young athletes training or at least working with extremely high level mixed martial artists. Talk about how awesome that experience and how valuable it is for those youngsters.
Ricky Lundell – “It’s incredible to look at the athletes that have been in and out of this room. From Carlos Condit to Phil Davis to Frank Mir to Miesha Tate to Travis Browne. Everybody who is anybody in the MMA world has really shown up in this room. What’s so incredible about what’s going on in this wrestling room is that these kids don’t know what realistic is. They are training with world champions on a daily basis. To become great at anything you have to be somewhat unrealistic. When these kids are meeting world champions on a daily basis they don’t realize how difficult it is, how hard it is to become a world champion and because of that they make these huge goals that are unrealistic yet they hold themselves to it. They know five people who have won world titles it’s like it’s no big deal to them! Then they go on and accomplish great things themselves. There is a level of confidence these guys bring into the room, it’s pretty exciting and it makes our room very unique.”
Tony Reid – With all the talk about your work as a coach in wrestling and in MMA, what has been your proudest moment as a coach to this point?
Ricky Lundell – “From seeing Frank Mir break someone’s arm to seeing Jon Jones retain his belt…Even watching some of these high school kids go on to States and things like that are all very exciting. As a coach any time you know your athlete has put in the work and has put everything into it and even achieves the smallest of goals, man it feels good. When they achieve and you are there by their side that is a great feeling. You want them to achieve so badly and when they do it’s a great feeling.”
Tony Reid – Who are your favorite fighters to watch and why?
Ricky Lundell – “My favorite fighter to watch is Benson Henderson. I love watching him fight. If he is on the card I am definitely buying the Pay per View. I like his style, I like how he moves, and he’s confident but not cocky. He exudes positivity. All around, he is an all-around great fighter.”