“I’m dying, I don’t know if I’m going to make weight,” he said.
Then you realize that the Californian is always quick with a joke, so that concern drifts into the realm of jealousy as then tells of a recent meal: “Last night I ate two big fat chicken tacos, two pastrami dogs and a large fries. And a big donut.”
He had me at “pastrami dogs,” but suffice to say that the truth lies somewhere in the middle for “The Monsoon,” whose demeanor speaks volumes when it comes to the reality of the move to 170 pounds, which is apparently going well. As for his reasoning for the drop, he simply says “I think it’s time for me to be the big guy or at least the normal guy in the weight class instead of the small runt.”
> See Lorenz Larkin's fighter profile
At 5-foot-11, Larkin was never going to be the biggest heavyweight, light heavyweight, or even middleweight around. That’s just genetics, but as he explained, when fighting as an amateur heavyweight or a light heavyweight in his early pro days, he was mainly dealing with opponents who weren’t doing this for a living, so they were fighting at or near their walking around weight. And when that was the case, Larkin didn’t realize how things would change as he moved up the MMA ladder. He did soon enough though, even fighting at light heavyweight four times in Strikeforce before moving to middleweight.
“As I got into the bigger show, I still saw 205ers as my size – they had the height on me, but they weren’t too big. But the more I got into it, the bigger these dudes got and I always was the smaller guy. I moved to ‘85 and I was still the smaller guy.”
Middleweight started out well enough for Larkin, who decisioned future UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler in his final Strikeforce bout in 2012 before moving to the Octagon in 2013. But after a controversial loss to Francis Carmont in his UFC debut and a win over Chris Camozzi, Larkin hit a three-fight skid that brings him to Saturday’s bout with Howard and a fresh start at 170 pounds. Middleweight? He was giving up too much.“When I fight at ’85, it’s crazy because at the weigh-ins, it’s always like ‘this guy ain’t that big,’” he laughs. “But once weigh-ins are over and it’s the next day, you see these guys and you’re like ‘what the f**k?’ It’s not even the same guy.”
That won’t be the case on Sunday, with Larkin actually entering the Octagon as the bigger man against the 5-foot-7 Howard. As an added bonus, the versatile striker from Riverside will be facing an opponent more than willing to stand and trade with him, but Larkin refuses to get overly excited about that part of the fight, knowing that striking battles on paper often turn into wrestling matches in reality. Regardless, the 28-year-old is determined to leave a positive impression on Boston fight fans.
“I’ve been training hard and I’m gonna be ready,” he said. “No matter what, it’s gonna be exciting. If he wants to play the jits game or the wrestling game or just wants to sit there and trade, I’m gonna fight my fight. I don’t try to make the fights exciting, I don’t try to force it – it’s just how I fight. All my tools are coming along and it (size) is something that would have hindered me in the past, but I don’t think I’m going to get overpowered by anything. It’s going to an even playing field and I’m not going to get bullied into the cage or any takedowns.”
Larkin sounds excited, but despite getting what looks to be a restart to his UFC career, he’s not forgetting what got him to this point, and he’s not ready to leave that baggage in the past just yet.
“It’s been tough,” he said. “I know that I fight better than the way I’ve been fighting. I know I have better capabilities, and I feel like I let my team and my coaches down. So in this fight I’m trying to make a statement. Fast forward and say I win, I’m gonna be happy, but I’m not gonna be that happy. I’m not gonna be happy until my wins are caught up with my losses. There’s nothing about this fight that’s gonna make me happy. It will be three or four fights from now when I’m happy with the way everything is going.”
It’s an admirable and realistic attitude to have, to realize that one fight doesn’t turn a career around. But at least it would put Larkin back on the right track, and if he needs any reminders about what he can do when he’s on his game, a look at a win over the current welterweight champion on the world wouldn’t hurt.
“I don’t try to reminisce too much about my old fights, but it does put a confirmation in your head that you can do it,” he said. “If I was looking at the fight, that’s what I’d look at – I’ve been there before and I did it.”
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