Drew "Night Rider" Fickett has been competing in the sport of mixed martial arts for over 10 years. He has fought for the biggest promotions in the world including the UFC and Strikeforce, amassing over 50 professional fights on his record (40-13). Fickett is the type of person that does not walk the same lines as most people, often opting to cut his own trail to walk through. Best known for his antics outside of the cage, he is looking to change that legacy, and is off to a good start. MMA Spot's Thomas Caldwell got a chance to catch up with the "Night Rider" to talk about the past, present and future, of one of the sport's most talented fighters.
Caldwell: How have you been doing?
I've been doing good. I just got some good news today that I'm really excited about. It has nothing to do with MMA or my professional life, but it's some great news!
Caldwell: August of 2008 through August of 2009 wasn't a very good 12 month span for you, and a lot of people wrote you off as a waste of talent that would never make it back to the top level of MMA. Later, you admitted that for many of those fights you didn't even train. Considering your recent success inside the ring, what can you attribute the change to?
There was definitely a big mental change for me. You know, just staying focused, living a healthy lifestyle, and surrounding myself with people that will help me down that road and not hold me back. I think the biggest and number one priority in my life, that changed my life, is my daughter. I've had a very spiritual and very God-transcending experience. God just told me, "You better shape up, live and fight to the full of your potential, because you have so much talent you better embrace it or your daughter is not going to be able to live and prosper like you want her to."
Caldwell: A lot of your past problems and downfalls have been attributed to alcohol abuse. Is that something that you have worked on? Are you still drinking?
I really don't want to talk about that anymore. It's in the past and I'm focused on the future. Yes, I've quit drinking and feel like a totally different man. I've talked enough about that. I'm just really tired of talking about it, if you know what I mean.
Caldwell: Was your daughter's birth the biggest changing point in your life?
I'm not going to lie. It's really hard. I took care of my daughter, day in and day out until she was about a year old. Her mother worked a lot and I took care of my daughter. I hate to say this, but I really didn't realize how much I love my daughter until she got a little older and I was able to interact with her. I cared for her and obviously I loved her more than anything. It's just such a surreal experience, you know? And then me and her mother split and I wasn't able to see her everyday, and it broke my heart. It was something I took for granted, and it was then, that I really realized what I had and that's when I really made the change.
Caldwell: What is your contract status with Shine Fights? Do you still have fights on your contract with them and is that an exclusive contract?
Actually, first I want to thank Jason Chambers and Santino Defranco as well as the whole organization. They really put themselves out there for me. I know I've had some screw ups in the past and no else would take me in. No one else would even give me a chance to show everyone what I can do. Yes, I do have a contract with Shine. It is not an exclusive contract, but I believe they are going to give me a fight in November or December. That's going to be the next time that the fans are going to see me and it will be with Shine.
Caldwell: So Shine is planning on having another event his year?
Yeah, I know there was a lot of hoopla about what happened down in Florida with Don King, as well as in Virgina with the boxing commission. But I'll tell you what, they run a tight ship—it's very organized. Less than a week from their scheduled event in Virgina they were able to pick the event up and move it across the country.
I don't think people realize how big of a deal that was—from the venue, to the fighters, to the ring—all that stuff had to be moved. I don't think Shine got nearly enough credit for doing what they did. Then on top of that, it turned out to be one hell of a show. So there is no doubt in my mind that there will be another Shine event. Santino Defranco and Jason Chambers, as well as the rest of the guys with Shine will make it happen.
Caldwell: Most of your career has been fought at welterweight but with this recent comeback you have dropped a weight class and have been successful at lightweight. Is the move permanent or do you want to eventually go back to welterweight?
I think I'm doing pretty good at 155 pounds, so I don't think there is any point in moving back up.
Caldwell: Recently Antonio McKee has said some things about you such as, "I'll smash his ass." Now, I know you guys have a pretty long history, so how would you like to respond to that?
I have no comment. I'm not going to bad mouth anybody. He's a tough guy, he's a savage. He's doing what he needs to do to keep his name in front of people. He's just trying to get a fight, and I hope he does find a fight. I hope we can fight some day, but I'm not going to sit here say things just to say things. I'll do my talking in the cage.
Caldwell: McKee is currently the lightweight champ of Maximum Fighting Championship, an organization that you have a not so good history with. The owner, Mark Pavelich has even come out and said that he would never work with you again. Would you ever consider fighting for MFC or Pavelich again?
You know I never say never. I know that we've had our differences in the past, but if I were to sit down and talk with Mark and we were to come to an agreement—sure, I'd be honored to fight for them.
Caldwell: Speaking of the UFC, is your ultimate goal to get back there?
I don't know. I mean there are a lot of good fights and a lot of good fighters outside of the UFC, but I think eventually I'm going to have to fight in the UFC in order to fight the best fighters in the world. So, yeah, eventually that would be my goal.
Caldwell: If you could fight anyone in any organization right now, who would it be?
Hands down, B.J. Penn.
Caldwell: At 170 or 155 pounds?
155. I've always wanted to fight B.J. Bring it on. I'd love to fight him. He's a hero of mine, and I still think he's got what it takes and I'd like to fight him before he retires. You know? I'm in my prime and he's still in his prime, and I'd like to make that happen.
Caldwell: You said that you plan on fighting for Shine again this year. Are you looking for other fights outside of Shine?
Shine has treated me well. So, if they keep treating me well and keep paying me good money—and getting me top level opponents—for sure, I'll fight for Shine. But, you know, everyone has a budget. I'm not sure if they are going to able to bring in the best guys all the time. I want to fight the best guys all the time, you know? I don't want any easy fights. Sometimes I underestimate guys that are really tough, [when] technically they aren't on the map. I don't want to overlook anybody and if I'm always fighting name opponents I will be Drew Fickett at 110 percent.
Caldwell: There are still plenty of people in the world of MMA that doubt you because of your past. What message do you have for those people?
To the doubters out there, have faith. The more people that doubt me, the more people I'm going to be able to inspire. If no one ever doubted me, then every thing would be easy, right? I've walked a hard path, and I know that there are a lot of people that have had it harder than I have. I just have to take my experience relative, and see that, as a fighter, I've had a pretty tough life, a pretty tough path. It just goes to show, if you really put your mind to something and you really are inspired by God, or your own spirituality or whatever you believe in—if you really believe in that and you believe in yourself the human mind is amazing and you can accomplish anything that you want.