2013 was a good year for heavyweight up-and-comer Cody “Freight Train” East. In three fights, East managed to finish two of his opponents en route to ending the year on a five-fight winning streak.
Unfortunately, East has not been able to keep his momentum going in 2014.
Contract issues have kept East out of action until Friday night’s Legacy FC 36 event.
“It’s been a year since I’ve fought,” East told MMAWeekly.com. “I had contract issues with King of the Cage, and I finally got out of that, so I’m looking forward to starting my year.
“I was definitely frustrated. I like to stay busy and a year without fighting is awful because that’s a lot of my income. It just sucks. I like to fight, so not being able to fight has been rough. I was hoping to be busier this year and fight four to five times.”
While East was waiting to clear up his contract situation, he was able to work on his game and feels like he’ll be a much better fighter when he returns this Friday.
“I’ve gotten better all the way around, but especially my kickboxing has improved,” he said. “I’ll be much more crisp and relaxed.
“In prior fights, I got in the habit of wanting to rush and go for the knockout right away. Now I’ll wait for it to come to me. I’m more relaxed and comfortable. I’m still going to be looking for the big knockout, though.”
At Legacy FC 36 in Allen, Texas, East (8-1) will face Vernon Lewis (4-2) for the promotion’s heavyweight championship.
“I’ve just got to fight my fight,” said East. “Vernon’s a big, strong guy and is tough and resilient, but I’m faster and I feel I have a higher skillset than he does. As long as I apply the pressure and keep up the pressure, he’ll tire and I’ll finish him.”
Not only could a win over Lewis give East the Legacy heavyweight championship, but it could very well be the springboard to the next level for him.
“It’s a very, very important fight,” said East. “I have been in contact with the UFC and if I can win this fight in impressive fashion, I hope I can get a deal with the UFC.
“(Lewis) is tough, but I’m on a good winning streak, I’m fighting out of a good gym and I want to show people how good I really am.”