PFL’S RAKIM CLEVELAND TALKS WITH FIGHTBOOKMMA CORRESPONDENT CAMERON CHRISP ABOUT KICKBOXING DEBUT AT EXTREME KICKBOXING, AND MORE…

Rakim Cleveland will make his Kickboxing debut at Extreme Kickboxing October 19th, 2019 at the Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Jefferson, Iowa. After Cleveland’s Aug. PFL tournament elimination to Vinny Mangalhaes (PFL-1 Champion), “The Boogeyman” will take on Jaquis Williams at a 215 catch weight, in a 3 round contest this Saturday night. In kickboxing both fighters’ won’t have to worry about defending takedowns.

Cleveland: He’s taller than me, has a longer reach than me, and has a decent background. This being a kickboxing bout, he’ll be more willing to throw (strikes) more freely. The first time these two met in MMA, Cleveland won by TKO round 2 in 2016.

When asked about his Kickboxing record and if it’s his debut, why start kickboxing now? ,

Cleveland: “I’ve never had a kickboxing fight and descended to start in kickboxing, because I’ve competed against some of the best in the world, including different kickboxing champions. I feel like I’m the best when it comes to striking only.”

Rakim Cleveland was born in Baytown, Texas and is the youngest of the 3 brothers (Raheem, and Ramel). Cleveland grew up in the world of boxing, but lacked his father’s permission to compete as a youth, in high school earned a scholarship in football, accepting, then moved to Des Moines, Iowa. During college he began training in MMA with college roommates.  Soon after dropping out of college to pursue a full time MMA career. Managed by Iridium Sports Management, Cleveland has been encouraged that a couple wins could also get him into Bellator, . Roughly a year and a half ago, Cleveland moved to Florida to train at American Top Team fulltime to prepare him for the PFL, training 6 hours a day. During his MMA career, he has lived in Texas, Iowa and Florida chasing his dream, competing all over including overseas. Season 1 (PFL) Cleveland was eliminated by Vinny Magalhaes via Flying triangle kimura round 1, which lead to Magalhaes going on to become the Tournament champion. Season 2 (PFL) Cleveland was eliminated, again by Magalhaes in the very 1st round via arm bar.

Cleveland: “He ended up catching me in an arm bar. We had a couple exchanges, then he ended up shooting for a take down, which I defended. I let him back up to his feet. Off of one of his kicks he set up a good shot, and took me down. He went for a kimura again, I defended. Then he transitioned straight to the arm bar from there. I mean that’s pretty much it, it’s pretty straight forward. It’s one of those things that once you get down on the ground, it’s his world.”

When I reached out to former CEO of M1 Global and current promoter Monte Cox of Extreme Kickboxing, he shared this

Monte Cox: We are excited to have Rakim back fighting with us. He found success in MMA with the Professional Fighters League and now he’s helping us out by fighting in our kickboxing show. He’s been working a lot on his stand up, and wants to show people how much he has improved.”

Chrisp: What do you have planned for the rest of the week?

Cleveland: “Slim down a little bit, focus on making weight, getting these last couple pounds off and making sure I’m feelin good and healthy. I usually cut weight alone. I don’t have a lot of weight to cut. I have my own regime, that’s what I’ve always done. It’s small little cycle that I run myself through. It’s pretty easy for me because I’ve been in it (fighting) so long. The weight just comes off easy.”

Chrisp: What weight classes have you fought in as a professional?

Cleveland: “I’ve competed at middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight.”

Chrisp: Speaking of cuts, have you been cut from the PFL or what is your status with them now?

Cleveland: “ We are in the playoffs, so no one has been cut as of yet. They have an open clause policy to where if you don’t make the playoffs or whatever, we are allowed to compete outside of the organization

Chrisp: Do you have a prediction of any kind on how this fight will go and end?

Cleveland: “ I wouldn’t call it a prediction. Like I said, (earlier) I don’t expect it goin to the judges. With that being said, we have a little bigger gloves on, you never know what’s going to happen. We are big guys, we put out some heavy shots. Hopefully it ends with me standing over him.”

Chrisp: Tell me your highs and lows of fighting

Cleveland: Most of the highs- I’ve been fighting for almost 12 years. I’ve fought for a lot of titles in my career, won some and lost some. One of the biggest highs was fighting for PFL the last couple years. Being highly ranked across the world is a thing in it’s own, so that’s always a high point for me. Win or lose, I put myself against the best out there.”

Chrisp: Disappointing I’m sure, tell me more about those recent losses in PFL.

Cleveland: I went to the PFL play-offs the 1st season. I ended up losing my final 2 bouts. Then ya know it’s just one of those things, when you’re fighting guys at a high level little mistakes cost you positions & positions cost you fights. I’m still working hard. I don’t feel like I’m to the point where I’m about done. My management thinks if I get a couple more wins i can go back to a bigger organization like Bellator-which has shown interest in me. I’m just taking my time, steppin back, regrouping. I’m gonna make one last push before I hang it up.”

Chrisp: Explain to us more about “hanging it up” as you put it. At your age of 30, that is considered young for high level MMA.

Cleveland: I’m at a young age, but that wear n tear comes in. It depends on how the body feels. I will listen to my body, when the body says it’s time to hang it up- then that’s when I feel it’s time to hang it up. Guys say 35 might be the year where you start beating the hell outta everybody, in your prime. When the body can’t handle anymore, that’s really when it is time when you should hang it up. Gotta listen to your body. If you go past that you could end up like Bj Penn, though a legend in the sport. In an effort to continue his career he has lost like 7 or 8 fights in a row. That’s crazy to me.”

Chrisp: Last words?

Cleveland: I want to thank all my fans, followers, & family who support me through my ups and downs, wins and losses. I wanna thank all the promotions who gave me opportunities. I just want to thank everyone and to know that I’m not done yet. It’s not over till it’s over. I look forward to getting in there, at the end of the week & putting on a great show for all the guys n gals in the crowd. I look forward to leaving my stamp on the sport. I wanna thank my sponsors at PSO_Rite, Doc’s Lounge, Quest Nutrition, Tong Jerky, Terphouse, Dakota Fight Gear, Sklar Orthopedic, and Iridium Sports Management. I just can’t wait to do my thang & enjoy what it’s about.”

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