This year marks the 10th anniversary of Ricardo Lamas’s working relationship with Zuffa, LLC.
It took him a couple of years to make it to the Octagon, but Lamas established himself as a featherweight contender in the World Extreme Cagefighting organization before it was absorbed into the UFC along with the majority of its fighters in 2010. Lamas hit the ground running, beating Matt Grice, Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki, and Erik Koch to set up a title fight with Jose Aldo at UFC 169.
Lamas would go on to lose a unanimous decision, but he’s been entrenched in the contenders’ rankings for the entirety of his UFC run and he hasn’t given up on someday challenging for the gold again. On Monday, he spoke to Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour about what he’s done in his fighting career and what he still hopes to achieve.
“The belt is still out there on the bucket list,” Lamas said. “What I’ve accomplished so far is being one of the top in my division, being one of the best fighters in the world in the featherweight division. Holding my spot over these 10 years and just continuing to go out there and put on good performances. I go out there and I finish fights. I have the second-most finishes in the featherweight division, only trailing the champ by a couple and I’m nipping at his heels.”
Starting off as a 26-year-old, Lamas says the plan was always to take things fight by fight. However, his second pro bout gave him an enormous boost of confidence as he defeated a multiple-time Illinois wrestling champion, a win that effectively stole that prospect’s thunder and announced Lamas as the one to watch in the Midwest.
Then Zuffa came calling and after going 4-2 in the WEC, Lamas went on the run that erased any doubts he was legitimate.
“Coming from a smaller show you kind of question yourself and you’re like, ‘Oh man, I’m coming from a smaller show. Do I deserve to be here?’” Lamas said. “Slowly, but surely, after every fight I had with the UFC, after my first fight I had a TKO in the first round against a guy who was in the UFC before me, he was a vet, Matt Grice. And then my fight with Cub Swanson and each fight after, those first four fights of mine were stepping up in level each time and each time I was coming out on top.
“Then obviously after my fight against Erik Koch, he was a former No. 1 contender at the time, and finished him in the second round, that was another huge one for me like, ‘I’m ready for a title shot now.’”
Lamas gets a home date in Chicago this Saturday when he fights Calvin Kattar at UFC 238. This will be Lamas’s 16th UFC appearance and he understands that there is the perception that he’s standing in the way of fresh contenders. He also acknowledged that there is a generational shift happening in his division.
“It kind of goes in cycles,” Lamas said. “It happens in every sport and the veterans slowly start to get weeded out and then the new up-and-comers come and take over. This is no different than any other sport and athletics.
“Father Time is the one opponent that we cannot beat and eventually he catches up to all of us.”
That doesn’t mean that Lamas is just going to roll over for Kattar and it definitely doesn’t mean that he’s thinking about retirement. If anything, Lamas is taking things one fight at a time, just like he did when it all started over a decade ago.
“Young up-and-comer against a crafty veteran, it’s a safe assessment,” Lamas said. “And I’m fine playing that role. I have a little secret, I’m Latino, so we age like a fine wine and I feel younger as I get older through the years and just look better every year. I’m ready for it.”