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Saturday, March 28, 2009
Updated: March 31, 5:54 PM ET
The Hook Up: FMX Meets MMA

By Ryan Leyba; Video By Cliff Talley

Myles Richmond is an FMX phenomenon whose career is on a meteoric rise. Generally a reserved character, Richmond perks up at the mere mention of Mixed Martial Arts. When he isn't competing or practicing Freestyle Motocross, he can be found scouring the Internet for MMA video or plopped in front of the TV, eyes glued to the latest match.

In early March, Richmond finally had the chance to get some face time with one of the legends of fighting, Dan Henderson. As it turned out, Dan was down for FMX almost as much as Myles was down for MMA. Almost...

After 2 days of MMA and FMX mash up, we sat down with Richmond to find out how it went and to ask how he got so obsessed with MMA in the first place.

When Myles isn't riding moto, he can be found diving deep into his favorite fighter's stats via the Internet. If there were a game show that tested the contestant's knowledge of MMA, Myles would be a multi-time champion.

When did you first get interested in MMA?

The first fight I ever saw was UFC 44 back in 2003—Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture. Randy beat Tito and then spanked him on the ass for a couple minutes. But I didn't really get into it until I saw BJ Penn and Mat Hughes in UFC 46. BJ beat Matt for the first time because he had moved up a weight class. After that, I started getting online and researching all the fighters. Beau Bamburg [fellow pro FMX rider] is actually the main reason I started watching it. He would teach me some moves and then we would just watch it together like dorks.

Is Beau a pretty good fighter?

Yeah, he actually goes to the Team Quest gym up north in Portland all the time. When we're on the road together I'll bring my UFC mits and we'll wrestle around — it's a really good cardio workout.

Since he told me to do it, I had to do it. This is Dan Henderson we're talking about! I almost asked him if he would spot me so I didn't get crushed.

What drew you to MMA and who were some of your favorite fighters when you were first getting into it?

I really don't know why I got into it. It's kind of just one of those things — I know I'm never going to be a professional fighter, but I love to watch it. It's funny, because one guy I really liked at first, and still do, is Rich Franklin because he looks like Jim Carrey. [laughs] I like Jim Carrey as an actor, so it was fun to watch Rich Franklin. That's why I was really bummed when he and Dan Henderson fought, because I like watching both of those guys fight. That's the downfall of watching fights — when two guys you like fight each other.

Speaking of Dan Henderson, how long have you followed his career for?

I saw a couple fights of his a long time ago. He used to fight UFC way back in the day and then he started fighting Pride. Actually, the first time I saw Hendo fight was when he fought Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and he ended up getting submitted by an arm bar. But I was pumped on Dan because he was always fighting bigger dudes — I always root for the smaller guy. After he beat Wanderlie Silva in Pride 33, I was super pumped on him.

Damn man, you really know what you're talking about!

I tell you, I'm not joking around when it comes to this stuff. I spend a lot of my time on the internet looking this stuff up. [laughs]

Before training with MMA master Dan Henderson, the seat grab and double grab were the only holds Myles knew. Is it possible to pull a full nelson on a dirt bike?

What do you think made Dan such a dominant force for so many years?

I think the biggest thing is that he's an Olympic wrestler. A wrestler can determine where the match is. Like if he wants the fight to be on the ground, he can do that. He doesn't mind standing up and fighting, but if he feels like he needs to take it to the ground, he has that ability. I think that's the biggest thing — controlling the fight. Plus he's never been knocked out, so that helps, too.

Do you think there are similarities between an MMA fighter and an FMX rider?

I can't really speak for the MMA guys, but the one thing I do think is similar is how we walk out to the ring or ride onto the course before a fight or run. Before a contest, you sit on the bike and go over your run and thinking, "Man, I hope this goes as planned." It's the same with fighters — all eyes are on them as they enter the ring and they're going over the fight in their head, thinking the same thing. Once the bell rings or you hit that first ramp, all the nervousness vanishes and you do what you do—you're in the zone.

Me and my buddies will watch UFC and then we'll think we're all tough and try to arm bar each other.

So, besides messing around with Bamburg, have you had any formal MMA training before your session with Hendo?

No, I've just been up to Team Quest in Portland, Oregon for the day with Beau. It was just an hour session with us grappling, so it really wasn't much. I've never been taught by someone who actually knows what they're doing, so training with Hendo was pretty awesome. Usually, it's just me and Beau, or else I'll try to replicate what I see on TV with my buddies. [laughs] Me and my buddies will watch UFC and then we'll think we're all tough and try to arm bar each other. [laughs]

One of the routines that Dan had you do was roll over a massive tractor tire. How hard was that?

I'm not going to lie; it was tough. I watched Dan do it and he's obviously a big dude and it looked like even he had a tough time getting it over. Then he was like "Ok, it's your turn" and I was like "Uh ... what?" But, since he told me to do it, I had to do it. This is Dan Henderson we're talking about! I almost asked him if he would spot me so I didn't get crushed. But yeah, I was worried I'd put out my back and not be able to ride the next day. I surprised myself with that one.

Besides making you flip the 600-pound tire, did Dan take it pretty easy on you?

Yeah. I was actually a little intimidated because I was expecting him to really torture me, but obviously he didn't want to kill me, so he took it easy on me. He was really cool about it.

Just like MMA fighters have their own private facility to train for the next big fight, FMX riders have private compounds to hone their skills. Here Myles throws it sideways at the new Red Bull Compound, north of Los Angeles.

Do you feel more confident that you'd be able to defend yourself in a bar fight now that you've been taught by the best?

Not at all. [laughs] It's not like I'd be able to just arm bar some dude and be like, "Take that sucker!" MMA fighting and street fighting are two completely different things. There are no rules in the streets, but MMA has rules and a ref to make sure you don't get beat up too bad. If I were in a street fight, I'd probably just kick the dude in the balls and run.

Since training with Dan, have you built upon what he taught you, kept up on practicing the moves?

Just on my girlfriend—I taught her how to do a D'Arce choke. [laughs] I've actually been meaning to go back to Dan's gym in Temecula and sign up for some classes, but I haven't had time with my crazy travel schedule. I want to get down there before it's too late and they forget who I am — maybe they'll hook me up if I go soon.

If I had six months to prepare, I could maybe make it a close fight between Deegan and I. But if I were to fight him now, he'd just demolish me — it wouldn't even be fair.

If you were a professional MMA fighter, what would be your nickname? I don't think "Mylo" would float in the fighting world.

Yeah, that's not the most intimidating name. That's the thing with FMX and MMA—it's all about image. Fans don't know athletes by their names anymore. I don't really have an image, so I don't know what my nickname would be.

How about "Myles the Massacre?"

That actually sounds pretty good! Myles "The Massacre" Richmond. I think I'll keep that one for now until I come up with a better one.

If it were you and Brian Deegan in a ring, who would come out victorious?

Shoot, I'd have to say Deegan at this point. He's been training with these guys for a while, so he definitely knows what he's doing. Plus he's a lot scrappier than I am. If I had six months to prepare, it could be close, but if I were to fight him now, he'd demolish me — it wouldn't even be fair.

Which sport do you think has more potential for serious injury, MMA or FMX?

Not to take anything away from MMA fighters, because we all know how gnarly they are, but Freestyle Motocross is more dangerous. Obviously, every time a fighter steps into the ring they expect to get punched or choked out, but they have a ref in there to make sure they don't get beat up too badly. With FMX, once you crash it's just you and the ground. We've been known to have some pretty bad injuries in our sport and even a death with Jeremy Lusk, so it's pretty far up on the danger scale.

Freeriding in the hills is kind of like being in a street fight — no medics, no rules, no judges. Here Myles kicks the hell out this natural terrain hip. Take that dirt!