I experienced my first taste of the UFC last Saturday night cornering my teammate Tim Elliott for his flyweight title fight against Demetrious Johnson. And while the fight didn’t end up going Tim’s way, the week in Vegas, with the UFC, was a real eye opener for me.
By now you probably have heard that Tim lost his fight against Mighty Mouse. But it was one of those situations where he actually gained more in a loss. And, to be honest with you, Tim already proved his championship worth by making the 125-pound weight limit.
Things got pretty hairy there for a second.
We were in the final stages of cutting weight before weigh-ins, and Tim hit the scale two pounds over. He was physically and emotionally drained from making the cut five times during the last couple months, and he told us all that he was done, that he didn’t even care about the title shot any more. In that instance you gotta take the thought of the weight cut away -- it’s a wrestler trick we use, when you’re cutting weight and you’re sweating, just start massaging the body to get your mind off of the weight cut.
Of course, there was no way we would let this happen. Our team of lighter weight killers: me, Tim, #JosephBenavidez, and #BrandonMoreno; were all cutting weight, since Joseph and Brandon were also fighting on the main card of the TUF 24 Finale, and there was no way we’d leave our boy behind. It was grueling, but Tim eventually made the weight, and it was a victory for our entire team.
Now Tim has since stated that he’s done with flyweight and will move up to 135 for his next fight, but as a guy who competes in three divisions, I think it’s actually more difficult to put weight on. Conor McGregor can probably agree.
Growing up as a wrestler, cutting weight was a pretty regular thing. I wrestled at 141 pounds in college at Purdue and at Sacramento City College, so when I decided to fight MMA, 135 was the natural choice -- I literally can cut 10 pounds at a wrestling practice.
At first, fighting at bantamweight was perfect. But the more I won, the more difficult it became to find guys who would step up to the challenge. That’s when I decided to move over to King of the Cage and make this run at three belts and history.
Rather than fight at my natural weight though, my first #KOTC bout was for the lightweight title. I jumped up two weight classes and 20 pounds to take on UFC and The Ultimate Fighter veteran Chris Tickle. The fight went my way, but the hardest part was bulking up to 155.
Ever since growing up, my dad had always put me in the higher weight classes for wrestling. I have five older brothers, so I’m used to fighting bigger guys. But when I’m putting on the weight and eating high-calorie foods, I feel overstuffed and bloated. When you’re cutting the weight, you eat a minimum, you feel good, you feel light, so it was actually more of a challenge for me to make lightweight and 145, and I won those titles.
But in a lower weight class, at 135, I’m bigger than most of the guys -- it’s one of few times in my life that I’m the bigger guy -- so I’m able to finish the shots a lot sooner than when I fight at a higher weight, and I’ve always been good at attacking people’s weaknesses anyway, so I keep the same motion, but with a higher pace and volume, and with a lot of takedowns.
So, while I was in Vegas with Tim Elliott for The Ultimate Fighter finale, I constantly kept hearing talk about how tough the weight cut was and moving up a division. But fighting up a weight class is no easy feat, and not every fighter can be successful across multiple divisions.
Conor McGregor already demonstrated how the game changes at different weight classes when he moved up to 170 and 155. On December 18, it will finally be my chance to show my own ability across weight classes. Fortunately, I’ve already done the hardest part by winning the KOTC lightweight title. Cutting to bantamweight will be the easy part.