Robert Drysdale Eager to Take “Next Step” Against Mike Nickels

Monday, May 2, 2011

By Kelsey Mowatt

Armageddon Fighting Championship turned many heads throughout the MMA and jiu-jitsu world last year, when the upstart, Canadian promotion announced the signing of former ADCC world champion, Robert Drysdale. Since then, the renowned BJJ practitioner has forged ahead with his MMA career, entrenching his position as a highly touted prospect by submitting established British Columbian fighters Clay Davidson and Bastien Huveneers. Now, Drysdale will look to his next challenge in the former “Ultimate Fighter” competitor and well travelled veteran, Mike Nickels, who the AFC announced recently will fight Drysdale on June 18th.

“I think the fact that he’s a UFC vet is huge,” Drysdale told FCF, while discussing the heightened profile of his next opponent. “He brings a lot more attention, and I think that in some ways it’s like I’m taking the next step up the ladder. It’s a tough fight. He’s experienced and there will be a lot more people watching this fight than the previous two. I like that; I want people to know that I’m fighting and that I’m serious about this.”

While Nickels (9-4) has been involved in some memorable battles where he primarily utilized his striking skills, the veteran is likely better known for his grappling abilities. Like Drysdale, Nickels is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and it will be interesting to see at AFC 6, whether Nickels looks to engage the ADCC champ on the ground.

“I think he’s skilled,” said Drysdale, when asked to assess the ground skills of Nickels. “Of course grappling for MMA and grappling for submission tournaments are two different things. He’s a guy with far more fighting experience than myself and that counts, it counts a lot. So I’d say I have the edge on the sports jiu-jitsu, and he has the edge on the MMA aspect of it.”

“I’ve only seen a little bit of his ground game though,” Drysdale added. “I haven’t seen much, but he’s skilled. He’s someone that I respect; I feel like overall I’ll have an edge on him, but I definitely respect his ground skills. I’m not going to be that guy who says I’ll go in there and smoke him.”

Like any other accomplished BJJ competitor who has transitioned into MMA, Drysdale will continue to face questions, as to whether or not he is improving all of the skills that are necessary to be successful at the highest levels of the sport.

“I just want to get better at what I do,” said Drysdale, while discussing his evolution as a fighter. “There’s a lot to improve. My stand-up still has a long ways to go, my wrestling still has a long ways to go and my jiu-jitsu still has a long ways to go. So there are a number of different areas that I’m still improving on and that’s what I’m focusing on right now. We’ll see what happens in the future; I just want to get this fight out of the way.”

According to Drysdale, after his upcoming bout with Nickels, the 28 year-old-light-heavyweight has one more bout on his current contract with AFC, which he believes will take place in August. Unlike many other rising prospects, Drysdale insists he’s not worried about what offers may or may not come his way later this year, provided he wins his upcoming fights.

“My whole life I’ve always been the kind of guy that doesn’t like to plan too much out in the future,” Drysdale noted. “So much can change. I like doing what I love to do. I’ve always loved jiu-jitsu and I stuck with it, had success with it, then I wanted to move on to MMA. That’s where I am right now. I’m in no hurry to accomplish what other people think I should accomplish. My goal is to get better at what I do and keep doing what I love.”