David Rickels sees his next step as a natural transition – the evolution from caveman to businessman.

“I’ve been thinking about doing something like this in the Wichita area for a long time. We lack a quality show,” Rickels said. “Everyone who knows me knows I’m big on entertaining. Entertainment is why people come to fights. That’s something I value.”

The Derby native will unveil Evolution Fighting Championship, his new Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion aimed at highlighting local fighters. The first event is scheduled for August 8 at the Beechcraft Activity Center and will feature several fighters from the Wichita area.

“A lot of great fighters are missing out on opportunities because there is nothing else going on in this area,” he said. “I want to put on a great show and give these guys something they deserve.”

Rickels rose to Bellator fame in 2013, winning the lightweight tournament championship and its $100,000 purse. He’s been a regular fighter for the MMA organization since, including four consecutive fights at the Kansas Star Arena.

“When Bellator came to Wichita we had a big increase in MMA awareness. A lot more people are being drawn into the fighting scene and watching MMA,” Rickels said. “It’s time that we have a local show that can put those guys onto a bigger stage.”

Contractually obligated to Bellator, all of Rickels’ work in EFC will be done outside the cage, including handpicking the fighters for the inaugural show.

“I’ve been around them enough to know that these guys are ready for something bigger. I know which fighters are going to put on a good show,” he said. “I’ve been doing this awhile. I’ve been to every show that you can name. I’ve been to shows where there’s dirt on the floor. I’ve been to shows held at high-level Vegas casinos.”

Rickels has been working with accountants, ring announcers, marketers and other professionals involved in the business prior to the launch of EFC.

“We have a weird group, but we all have our special traits. We have a lot of business aspects handled,” Rickels said. “We’re not competing with Bellator. That’s not our plan. We are focusing on a smaller, local level.”

Although Rickels feels at the top of his game in the cage, the EFC is the first serious step toward a career outside the cage.

“I plan on fighting for Bellator for awhile,” Rickels said. “Eventually there is going to have to be something outside of that. I want to enjoy the jobs I have for the rest of my life. I don’t ever want to hate working. I want to be involved in the fight game. This is just one venue for me doing that.”

IF YOU GO

Evolution Fighting Championship 1: The Local Talent

Date: Saturday, Aug. 8

Where: Beech Activity Center, 972 East Central, Wichita, KS

Tickets: cagetix.com (General admission $20)

Website: efcfight.com

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