Ricky Dexter wants to punch someone. The problem is, he sometimes has a hard time finding people who will show up.
While his fighting career started in 2013, Dexter “competed” long before that. “I fought a few bar fights. I was in the navy, so I’d get in some scraps. Stupid masculine sh*t. I was kind of like… back in the day… kind of a punk. I have an outlet now, so I don’t have to be a punk anymore.”
Dexter found the gentleman’s way of being a punk.
His road to the cage began when he was working at the Bangor Brewer Athletic Club, home of Team Irish. He was teaching circuit training style fitness classes there, and eventually eased into his MMA training. But when some changes in the coaching structure left Dexter unsatisfied with the guidance he was receiving, he found his way to Young’s MMA in Bangor.
“I made the switch over to Young’s ’cause everyone knows (former UFC fighter and Team Irish coach) Marcus (Davis) moved. He moved to North Carolina, he runs a TapOut gym down there now. So I didn’t have a coach at Team Irish. All of my partners were… coming and going, they weren’t really dedicated. It was kind of hard to get the rounds that I needed. So I had to seek out over here… I got (head coach) Chris (Young) now. It was kind of a natural fit when I came here. Everybody’s working hard. I admire everybody’s hard work and dedication. I thought I worked hard.”
Having excellent coaches might be enough, but there’s icing on the motivational cake for Dexter to train at Young’s.
“Nobody really knows, but Ryan (Sanders) is my second cousin.”
Dale Hartt, former UFC competitor and coach at Young’s, works with Dexter on a weekly basis. I asked Hartt about Ricky’s work ethic. “He has a lot of heart… he has tenacity. And he keeps showing up. (Laughs) So he’s got that going for him. I think he has legitimate potential.”
Hartt’s words speak volumes about Dexter. For those who might not be aware, most of the work done by a mixed martial artist is not on the night of the fight; it is done in the training camp. A majority of men and women who come through the door wanting to be a fighter will never compete, most often because they stop showing up to put in the work… it’s just too difficult for the average person. Dexter related that this was the biggest problem that he had at his previous training facility.
“Everybody (at Team Irish) was just kind of like… come in like once, twice a week. When I do camp, I like to do morning and night. I like to train like a professional. We didn’t have that morning group that was coming in like we do here (at Young’s). I mean, Friday morning… this place is packed. I was hungry for that team environment.”
And that team environment is paying dividends. Dexter had some holes in his game when he started at Young’s, and his coaches are helping him to identify and reinforce those weak spots.
“I actually thought I had good cage work till I came here,” Dexter says. “I thought I had good defense on the cage, that it was hard to take me down. Now it’s like… I guess I don’t have good cage defense. Against the cage, on the ground, (that’s what) I’m working on. Like today… Ryan Sanders was on top of me… I was dead tired, and he was just… kabibing me on the ground. I was fighting for my life.”
Regardless of his training, at the age of 30, the clock is ticking for Dexter’s MMA career, as Hartt confirms.
“He’s not getting any younger, so if he wants to do something, he better do it now.”
Of this, Dexter is fully aware. “I feel like I get one percent better every day. It’s now or never.”
On April 28th, New England Fights presents NEF 28: “Invincible” at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine. At the event, Ricky Dexter will compete in his second professional bout, against Keenan Raymond (3-3-0), who fights out of Rhode Island. Dexter has done his homework.
“Stylistically, he’s a wrestler, he’s got judo. He doesn’t like to strike, he doesn’t like to get hit. That’s what I like to do, I like to hit. So once he feels my power, I feel like he’s gonna sh*t his pants a little bit, he’s gonna be scrambling for that takedown. I don’t think he’s going to be able to get me down to the ground, if he does, I’m gonna get right back up. I’m originally a 170 (pounder), we’re (going to be fighting) at 160, so I’m going to be a bigger guy, I’m a more athletic guy, a better striker. He’s obviously more technical when it comes to wrestling, but my anti-wrestling game I feel is getting top notch.”
Apparently the fight itself is not what Dexter is worried about.
“I hope he shows up. He has a past of not showing up to his fights. He’s got a lot of fights that he’s pulled out of, a lot of fights where he’s flaked out, hasn’t shown up. Hopefully he won’t be too scared. Talking to a guy named Mike Hammersmith, he told me that (Raymond) actually fell down stairs right before a fight, saying he’s hurt, like… multiple times. So I’m a little concerned about that. He’s burned a lot of bridges, so hopefully he doesn’t want to burn one with NEF.”
Like many times in the past, one of the issues is whether Ricky Dexter even gets to punch anyone at all.