Level playing field: Bellator's Brent Weedman discusses making the drop to 155

via cdn0.sbnation.com

Bellator Fighting Championships veteran Brent Weedman had to learn it the hard way:

No matter how skilled you are, you can only fight without having to cut weight and remain competitive for so long before you have to suck it up and drop down a division.

Even Frankie Edgar, one of the best in the world and a man who defended his UFC lightweight title three straight times is constantly badgered about dropping a weight class.

Weedman more than held his own in the Bellator season four welterweight tournament, defeating Dan Hornbuckle before dropping an extremely controversial decision to eventual tournament winner Jay Hieron in the semifinals, a fight which a large majority of fans and analysts believe he won.

He came back as a participant in the season five 170 pound field, but had issues dealing with Chris Lozano's strength as the fight wore on, eventually losing the final two rounds and dropping his quarterfinal bout in a very entertaining battle.

The Kentucky native sucked it up and decided to drop down to lightweight, gaining immediate entry into the season six tournament which starts this Friday night (March 23, 2012) at Bellator 62 in Laredo, Texas where he will be taking on Muay Thai practitioner J.J. Ambrose on the main card.

Weedman spoke with MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission this past weekend about his motivation for dropping down and how he believes it will affect him in part one of this two-part interview.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): We'll start with the most obvious question. For the last two tournaments, you competed at welterweight but for this one, you'll be dropping down to 155.

Brent Weedman: Yeah, yeah. I was walking around, I was showing up the last for 5-6 fights in a row starting up fight week at around 172, 173. I like to joke and say that I would accidentally make weight about seven or eight times in the two weeks before the fight. I'd wake up in the morning at 171 and go, "Oh, well I guess I get to eat a whole bunch today."

I'd talked to Bellator about my weight. The 170 guys, I like to joke that 195 is the new 170. You've got Bryan Baker in the tournament now and Doug Lima's a huge dude and Chris Lozano is no small pup so when they called and I got a call from my manger saying, "Look, we were trying to get a fight before the end of the year but nothing was coming up, not anything," and he said, "Hey look, Bellator came back and said they can't fit you on as a welterweight but if you can make 155, they'll put you right in the next tournament," and that's all I needed to hear.

In fact, before Bellator called, I had already planned a test cut and I went ahead and pushed it forward a week or two just because I didn't want to leave Bellator waiting so I said, "Screw it, I'll make it next week." I made the cut on a Sunday and then gave myself Monday to recuperate and then Monday night I did some super heavy duty sparring just to see how the body would react and to see if my jaw, my power and speed and everything would stay and it felt good. I felt great so here I am. I'm ready to go.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've got a question on what spurred this decision to drop down. The fight with Lozano, it kind of felt like you got outmuscled a bit as the fight wore on, especially in the third round. Did it feel like you were suffering from a strength disadvantage?

Brent Weedman: Early, not really because I was on his back much of the first round and technically that's grappling but in the later rounds, like you said, actually having to grapple and clinch with this guy instead of playing yoda and the backpack and hanging on for dear life, yeah, I definitely felt that he was larger than me and it's something that I was kicking around. As far as what spurred this decision, you can only walk around at your weight class in this sport for so long.

My sort of "Ahh" moment, part of our routine when we were in Texas before the quarterfinals last year, we had some media with Jimmy [Smith] and Sean [Wheelock] the commentators and that Wednesday night we like to get some pad work in, get a sweat going to loosen the muscles and so we go to the workout room that they set up for us and he goes, "Well why don't you check your weight?" because I brought my sweatsuit and everything just in case. I stepped on the scale, 171, and we go to working pads. Meanwhile, Douglas Lima comes in and he looks like shredded death run over, he's cut to heck, his eyes are all sunken in, he's been in the sauna and he gets on the scale and weighs 186. He cut down to 186 and still had 15 pounds to go. That was the first moment when I thought, "Huh, maybe I'm in the wrong weight class."

That was just further confirmed the more I hung out and we did the promo stuff in Orlando and I hung out with the 155-ers. Everyone keeps saying, "Oh wow, cutting down to 155, you'll be a huge 155," and I used to think the same thing until I met the other 155-ers. They're all my size too or bigger. I feel pretty good about this decision. It is kind of a bummer now that I'm cutting weight again. My wife has been making fun of me a lot this week. I have to actually watch my caloric intake and do a little sweating here and there and all that jazz, stuff I haven't had to do in a really long time. I feel like I'm where I should be and I hope to come out and sort of reestablish myself. I'm on the first fight skid of my career. I've never lost two in a row so it's time to turn it around. I'm over losing. It's getting real old.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've got one last question about cutting weight before we move on to other stuff. You've been used to just basically being in really good shape and just weighing in at the welterweight limit. So are you worried at all that it's going to affect you having to actually cut weight and rehydrate yourself after dutting down to lightweight. It'll be a little different for you this time around.

Brent Weedman: Well I did this a lot coming up. I've had people ask me why and I'm not sure I can explain why but my body's just sort of changing. I used to walk around at 190-195, even in shape and then when I was in fight shape, I'd still be in the low to mid 180s and then I'd make the cut from there. That's pretty standard from there for the sport but now I'm at the point where in my time off, I'm 182-185, that's my fat phase and when I'm in shape I'm in the low 170s so I'm not really worried about it. It would be a different story if we would ever go to same-day weigh-ins or anything like that and I don't see that happening any time soon.

By the time it's all said and done, you've got 30-some hours before you have to be in the cage and throw punches. I know this will be a huge shock to you guys but I think the scientific approach to this, I did a lot of research. I got advice from medical professionals and people who know way more about this than I do, the human body that is so I feel pretty good about my strategy. I think it's crazy the guys that make a commitment to a weight cut, I think Demian Maia is making a much-publicized drop to welterweight for the UFC and hasn't made a test cut and I think that's kind of crazy. I think guys who dropped weight and just signed to fight at a new weight class and never did it, you don't know how you're body's gonna react.

It's a finicky thing. I wanted to make sure I had the experience under my belt, that I came in the next day and had a half dozen badass kickboxers that I trained with punch my head in and make sure everything's still where it should be, that I'm still able to take a punch and all that jazz. I feel really good about it. I think guys who dedicate to a weight cut without ever testing it are kinda gutsy. Gutsy or foolish depending how you look at it.

Stay tuned for part two tomorrow in which Weedman discusses strategy going out the window, the intellectual side of fighting and regaining that killer instinct. You can follow Brent on Twitter @brent_weedman.

So what do you think, Maniacs?

Do you believe the weight cut will give Weedman a fair shot this Friday night? Or is this tournament field, which features fighters like Rick Hawn and Patricky Freire, too loaded for him to win it?

Sound off!

To listen to the complete audio of our interview with Brent Weedman, click here (begins at the 6:00 mark).

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