In the past month, he has been in the corners of Frank Mir, Erik Perez, Joe Lauzon and Carlos Condit. Yet, Ricky Lundell is an unassuming, stereotypical, all-American-looking “kid,” who walks out with some of the greatest names in MMA.
Usually wearing his blue “Bishop-Gorman Wrestling” T-shirt, he makes you think,”Who is that guy?”
Well, “that guy” is credited as the youngest North American to have been received a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, now a second degree. Lundell is a two-time Pancrase World Champion and an Absolute Pancrase World Champion. Not enough credibility for the loud-mouth “kid” with the big smile? He has also taken gold, twice, in the FILA World Grappling Championship.
He’s unassuming, but rather qualified.
Lundell is now on his second stint as an assistant coach for the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter reality series. Last year, he was part of Team Jones, as he is also one of Jon Jones’ wrestling/grappling coaches. This year, he is part of Team Tate, assisting Miesha Tate and Bryan Caraway on Season 18.
MMAWeekly.com: What was your reaction when you heard that you were going a coach again on TUF? How’d it come about?
Ricky Lundell: I was excited to be on another season of The Ultimate Fighter. It takes a lot of time, so I had to immediately open up my schedule. Luckily, all of my UFC athletes are very understanding and were happy to work around the busy schedule that The Ultimate Fighter requires.
Bryan Caraway and Miesha Tate called me and asked me if I would come on the show as their coach. I was excited. Short notice and all, I was excited to be a part of the show.
MMAWeekly.com: Talk a bit about the rivalry, especially since you’re not really connected to either head coach (Miesha Tate or Ronda Rousey).
Ricky Lundell: The rivalry is more than strong. It is among the top rivalries that the UFC has ever seen. Neither side has a desire to help one another or make one another’s life easy. Everyone from the cast members to the production team felt it.
MMAWeekly.com: Were you surprised by the talent that showed up? What were the key strengths that Team Tate looked for in selecting its members?
Ricky Lundell: We were shocked at the talent of this season. Everyone who showed up was skilled and ready to fight. Unlike some seasons, the cast members of this season all have the ability to make it to the finals. Team Tate really focused on going after MMA's most important skill set when selecting our fighters: wrestling. We wanted our athletes to have the ability to choose where we wanted the fights to take place, whether standing or on the ground.
MMAWeekly.com: You're the quiet guy on Tate's coaching staff… until the fights start. Did you develop bonds with certain fighters?
Ricky Lundell: I loved everyone on the show. Some questioned my abilities off the bat. I look young and if you aren't in the UFC or haven't been fighting in the Top 10 then you may not have seen me around. However, Tate and Caraway put it to rest quickly by talking about the fighters that I coach specifically. There were also several members of the team that were very excited to see me show up, as I had worked with many of their teammates and even coaches in the past.
MMAWeekly.com: Talk about some of the harder lessons to teach the men versus the women. Was it easier to coach males or females?
Ricky Lundell: Women love learning and becoming more technical. They listen quickly and tend to trust quickly. Men tend to listen less until you physically show them your technique works. Both men and women are easy to coach with the right approach… but, without a different approach to each gender, it could prove very difficult.
MMAWeekly.com: Ronda and Miesha are concerned about their image on the show. Do you have any concerns with the way you will be portrayed?
Ricky Lundell: I hope that they show me the way that I am. I try to be a positive and fun coach; always pushing everyone, while having a great time. I hope that I am not put out there as an ignorant punk or anything (laughs). It is always a fear that you won't be portrayed positively. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
MMAWeekly.com: You have the unique experience of having coached on a previous season. How does this season compare to the Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen season? Which one would you do again if you were given the chance?
Ricky Lundell: That was a unique experience. There was much less drama with Jones vs. Sonnen. Tate and Rousey are always at each other’s throats. I would love to do both seasons again. Each season, I have learned little tricks to improve as a coach. I enjoy working with such a motivated and condensed group of athletes from all over the world, who are trying to get to the next level and achieve their dreams.
MMAWeekly.com: Any words for the fans?
Ricky Lundell: If there was ever a season to miss, don't miss this season of The Ultimate Fighter. Pure excitement! And rest assured we are going to be working hard with Miesha Tate to take the title from Ronda Rousey in a few months.
Ricky Lundell, Assistant Coach for Team Tate, will be checking in with MMAWeekly.com readers each week as the season progresses. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram and let him know your thoughts.
(Follow Amanda Earley on Twitter)