Just In Back in win column after Bellator 224, Ed Ruth plots international route to welterweight title MMA Life
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THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Ed Ruth put the show back on the road with a stoppage win over Kiichi Kunimoto at Bellator 224 on Friday night, then said he fancied taking his skills on an international tour as he plots his route to the welterweight title.
Speaking with MMA Junkie backstage after his second-round TKO finish of the Japanese veteran, Ruth (7-1 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) said he was keen to jump back into action “as soon as possible.” And while the lure of fighting on a local card in California appealed to him, he’d love nothing more than to head overseas to ply his trade around the world.
“Honestly, those cards out in California I do want to get on, because it’s closer to home for me,” Ruth said. “But I’m hearing they’ve got a couple of cards overseas that I want to hop on, too. I’m no stranger to traveling. When I was wrestling, I was traveling a lot, so I’m pretty used to it.”
Ruth bounced back from his first career defeat with a controlled performance against Kunimoto (20-8-2 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), who came into the contest with a huge experience advantage over the American. But Ruth was able to make light of his relative inexperience as he implemented his striking-first gameplan and dropped the 38-year-old in the first and second rounds en route to an impressive stoppage win.
Despite a solid performance and an important victory, Ruth said there was still plenty of room for improvement moving forward.
“I felt like it went the way I wanted it to go tonight,” he said. “(But) I felt like I could have done more things on the feet. I felt like I could have moved my hands more. I could have thrown more kicks. I came away with the win, but I’m always my hardest critic.
“I wanted to make a statement. I wanted people to see that just because I lost it doesn’t affect my performance. I’m still going to go out there, I’m still going to bang as hard as I can, I’m still going to take chances. I just feel like if I’m going to be a fighter I’ve still got to go out there and show everybody I’m still improving, I’m still getting better.”
The former NCAA Division I national champion wrestler told MMA Junkie earlier in the week that he planned to keep the fight standing and not turn to his elite-level wrestling to ensure he avoided Kunimoto’s submission threat. It proved a smart move.
“The gameplan was to stay on the feet,” Ruth said. “I didn’t want to go down to the ground because he’s a guy that, even if you knock him down, he’s still fresh enough to get submissions.
“So I was like, ‘OK, I’m gonna go out there, pepper him on the feet, get him tired, and make sure I can take away all his tools before I really start taking chances.’”
Of course, standing and striking with a top-level fighter is a risky business in itself. And while Ruth said he did get caught with a couple of solid Kunimoto shots, he wasn’t overly troubled as he went on to claim the mid-fight finish.
“He caught me with a couple of straights. He caught me with a jab, I think,” Ruth recalled. “But when you’re out there in a fight, as soon as you get caught you forget about it. It’s like, two seconds later you’re still in the middle of it, your hands are still up. Even if they touch you, you’re like, ‘OK, whatever. I’m still in it, I’m still banging.’”
And with his record enhanced by another victory to get him back in the win column, Ruth said he wants to plot a course that will eventually lead to a title shot at 170 pounds.
“Hopefully (the win) makes me another contender for the belt, man,” he said. “I’m making a bee-line for the belt. I don’t care whoever I have to fight, whoever I have to go through.
“I keep telling them I’m always ready. I’m always ready to fight.”
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