Rex Richards was making for a wonderful story. The former NFL player with Indianapolis Colts in 2003 has made a successful transition to professional mixed martial artist with an 8-1 record. But because he often fought above 300 pounds, Richards wasn't even close to being eligible to fight in the big leagues of MMA, the UFC, which has a 265-pound weight limit at the top of its heavyweight division and does not have a super-heavyweight class.
At 6-foot-5, Richards played in the NFL at around 350 pounds. The former All-Big 12 lineman at Texas Tech wanted to fight at the highest level possible, so he set out to re-shape his body. He fought last in August at 280 pounds. Weighing 310 again in December, he decided to go for broke and lose the weight to get to 265. He told Cage Writer that he had made it to 280 again by early March and finally tried out his new body on Saturday night. Unfortunately in the fight game, with rapid weight loss often come negative side effects. Richards felt the pain of an empty gas tank and dropped his Shark Fights 4 battle against Darrill Schoonover:
"I didn't even feel good back here (in the locker room),'' Richards told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that he had trouble warming up. "It was very disappointing to lose here in Lubbock. I always did well here, and tonight I let everyone down. I apologize to everyone that supported me.''
Richards did little standing and striking but he claimed that Schoonover's punches had no power:
"I never felt in any danger, because he never had enough behind his punches where I thought, 'The next one, I'm going to go down,' ''Richards said. "That was never the case. I just felt, 'Well, I can't stop this one. I can't even hold my hands up.' The 10 punches that I landed, he almost fell down. The 200 that he landed, I wasn't in any danger."
By the fourth round, his body couldn't stay upright. He was gassed and Schoonover was able to finish him on the ground via punches and a TKO stoppage from referee Kerry Hatley. It's not uncommon when fighters try to drop a lower weight class that the first time out is difficult.
On the same card, MMA veteran Don Frye picked up a win with a choke finish against Ritch Moss. TUF 7 bad boy Jesse Taylor choked out Eric Davila for his fifth win in eight months since his banishment from the UFC.