Moving on down the line: Ricardo Almeida on his plans for UFC welterweight debut

The UFC’s always-stacked welterweight division could be getting even more competitive in the months to come. In an exclusive conversation with MMAmania.com, Ricardo Almeida (10-3) confirmed that he is indeed looking to drop to 170 pounds ... just not right away.

"We have spoken to the UFC (about moving down in weight), and they have been very supportive," said the third-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Renzo Gracie. "It won’t be for my next fight, but the plan is to go down to 170 soon after."

A veteran of the UFC and PRIDE FC and a former middleweight King of Pancrase, Almeida’s decision came while he was preparing for his most recent fight against Matt Horwich at UFC Fight Night 18: "Condit vs. Kampmann."

"During the training camp for this fight my weight got really low (less than 190 pounds). Renzo was the first to notice and suggest that I think about making the move to 170."

Almeida made weight easily for the Horwich fight, which he won via unanimous decision, saying that he didn’t have to restrict his caloric intake at all in the weeks leading up to the fight and that he just had to eat "very clean." He was actually having some difficulty keeping his weight above 190 pounds prior to the fight.

This fact wasn’t lost on John Danaher, Almeida’s longtime friend and one of the head instructors at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York. Danaher has trained welterweight champions Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra in the past, and had some sage advice for the "Big Dog," saying, "Ricardo, people always do better when they go down a weight division."

Since returning to the sport of mixed martial arts after a self-imposed three-year layoff to open the Ricardo Almeida Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Hamilton, N.J., "Cachorrao" has posted a 2-1 record, which includes wins over previously unbeaten Rob Yundt at UFC 81 and most recently over Horwich at Fight Night 18. The lone loss came via split decision to the hard-hitting Patrick Cote at UFC 86 — a fight that earned "The Predator" a title shot against middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva.

Had that UFC 86 fight gone the other way, it’s easy to speculate about what might have been. Could we have seen an Almeida vs. Silva title fight? Perhaps we still will. Or perhaps we’ll see Almeida get his long-awaited title shot against welterweight sensation GSP.

Only time will tell.

While he expects the cut to 170 pounds to be difficult, Almeida says it’s a sacrifice he is willing to make, citing that he’d rather be a big welterweight than a small middleweight.

"This is the UFC. If you don’t master weight cutting, you are going to get beat by someone who does."

In this sport where we consistently see fighters of all divisions getting bigger and bigger, perhaps truer words have never been spoken.

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