Richie Vaculik is not normal. He enjoys getting punched in the face, thrown off his surfboard and chucked into situations where the rest of us would crap our pants. From a young age he was known as the adrenaline junkie of Maroubra. Deep down he just had a horrible risk assessment of the water.
But plunges into the deep end and beatings from the sea toughened the young pup, shaping him into the man you see today – a professional UFC fighter, part-time big wave surfer and full time Bra-Boy.
MH caught up with the 33-year-old to play three rounds of Would You Rather and to draw some comparisons between his two contrasting sports, because, well, if we don’t ask him these questions then who else would have the balls to?
MH: Richie, we know it’s a tough choice but would you rather receive a punch straight to the face or get wiped off your surfboard?
Vaculik: I’d much rather the punch in the face – I’ve got used to them over the years.
A punch is a lot more predictable, the scary thing about a wave is that you never know what the outcome is going to be. This head is made for getting smacked, so let’s go with it.
How about a six-pack of beer or six-pack abs?
Ha-ha, it depends on the time of year but one thing is for sure – alcohol and training don’t mix.
At the moment I’ll take a six-pack of beer, as I don’t have a fight coming up, but in the lead up to a fight I’ll take the abs. I always have to shed a bit of weight so if I can see my abs I know I’m on the right track.
I’ve been fighting at flyweight, which is 57 kilograms, and I walk around at about 70kgs outside of the cage, so there is a fair bit of weight to lose. I start doing all the little preparations from the moment a fight is announced.
One of the things I do straight away is cut all alcohol. I love having a beer with my mates but it’s an easy thing to say no to if you’ve got the right motivation. I spend up to three months drink free.
If you could pick, would you rather be stronger or quicker?
I’d take speed over strength for sure.
Speed is a killer in UFC, especially in my weight class. Those who have that advantage of agility and quick reflexes tend do better than those with more brawn and power.
Maroubra was a tough place to grow up back in the early 90s, would you have rather grown up in this generation?
I loved growing up in the 90s and I’m not sure I would have fit into this modern era of sitting inside and playing computer games.
I’d like to think getting outdoors and playing with your mates with roller blades, skateboards and riding bikes, like we did, helps your social skills. Sure we got into our fair share of trouble, boys will boys (Bra), but you learn a lot from these real life experience.
Here’s an easier one – skip leg day or do it twice in a week?
My legs haven’t grown since I was eight-years-old – I’ve given up on them. I’ve got tiny skinny little things hanging out my shorts, so I probably should do it twice a week, but no one enjoys the feeling of soreness that you get from leg day. My best option would be to go for a run instead.
Face a fear or hide from it?
Face it, 100%.
The things I do in life often scare the sh*t out of me, whether it’s walking into the octagon or trying to surf big waves, fear is always there. The most accomplishing feeling in the world is overcoming that fear and coming out on top thinking hell yeah, who’s the man.
Who would you rather get into the Octagon with Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee? And we mean in their prime, you can’t take them on now.
Wow, a difficult one, but I’d try my luck with Jackie.
Lee has this aura about him where’d you would be mentally beat before you walk into the fight, he would probably beat you up just from his stare.
Break a bone or bust your favourite surfboard?
I’ve had a pretty rough patch with injuries over the past 18 months so I’d have to sacrifice my surfboard right now, definitely.
In the lead up to my last fight in November I dislocated my left shoulder. I had about eight weeks to recover and concentrated on other skills during training, nursing the shoulder right up to fight time.
It didn’t give me any dramas but unknowingly I came away from the clash with a broken ankle. It’s amazing what you can push through in that type of environment. I think it’s the rush of adrenaline that stops you from realising pain, you’re focus and attention is on your opponent and your performance.
Richie went on to dislocate his right shoulder while in recovery training for his broken ankle . . .
Richie’s new book ‘Bra Boy – Surfer, Fighter, Larrikin’ is available to purchase for $32.99 and as an Ebook. Hit the links below for your copy.