After dropping four out of his last five bouts at middleweight -- albeit to pretty good competition (Kazuo Misaki, Frank Shamrock, Kala Hose and Joey Villasenor) -- Phil "The New York Badass" Baroni has decided to drop down to 170 pounds for the first time ever and try his luck at welterweight.
It's a 15-pound decision that he hopes will help him become a world champion in the near future.
Here are his exact thoughts:
"Im making the move because I want to be a World Champion. I dont fight for pay day's or fame, to be on tv or chick's. I got into MMA because I wanted to be the best fighter in the world. This is what I feel at this point in my career I need to do. Im feel Im a better fighter than Ive shown in the ring esp as of late. As far as the move to Welter Weight goes I feel great. Im more athletic. Im in much better condition, my hand speed is back, an I would go as far as to say Im a lot quicker than I was at my previous best. I feel just as strong physically if not stronger do to much greater flexibility. Im not going to make any predictions or promises. Ive been very humbled as of late. Ive been handed a real wake up call. Im going to give it my all 100% and do my best. Its Do or Die for me. Im All In! I love to fight. Im a real fighter, an like I said the day I dont think I can be a World Champion is the day Ill retire. Im not done yet, I have alot of fight left inside me. I have alot to prove to myself an alot of people to prove wrong. NEVER SAY DIE !!!"
Baroni -- who has heavy hands and "one punch knockout power" -- would certainly be a dangerous opponent for anyone at 170 pounds. The former bodybuilder, however, has often been criticized for his lack of dedication in the gym before fights, which would also have to change if he plans on having any success regardless of weight class.
And "The New York Badass" will waste no time in testing the welterweight waters.
He's been signed to fight on the July 12 Cage Rage 27: "Step Up" card against an unknown opponent. Cage Rage promoter Dave O'Donnell had this to say about Baroni in a recent MMAWeekly.com interview:
"Baroni will be fighting on the July 12 show, but I can’t release the name of his opponent yet. He will be a British guy and it will make for an exciting fight, as we all know how Baroni likes to go about things. We are talking to a few people now, but until contracts are signed, I won’t be mentioning any names."
Baroni is 10-10 in his professional mixed martial arts career -- essentially a clean slate. Perhaps the timing for a change could not be better. Time will tell.