When Strikeforce’s Lorenz Larkin started his mixed martial arts career, the light heavyweights he was fighting weren’t as big as he sees them now — both in size and star power. The bigger the show, the bigger the foe.
Dropping down to 185 pounds was the right thing to do for his career, he says, even though it means he can’t indulge in what he calls the “colossal burger” from his favorite local burger spot, Jersey Mike’s. It’s not so much that it’s hard on him physically, but mentally, it’s one of the hardest things he’s ever done.
“I think it’s from having a strict diet,” Larkin tells MMAWeekly.com. “Knowing that I can’t eat what I want really sucks. I’m into ice cream, burgers, chili cheese fries, all that good stuff.”
Cutting down to middleweight from his walking-around weight of 220 pounds has been difficult, but he fully anticipates getting used to the weight cut when he gets passed his first fight in the new weight class. MMA veteran Robbie Lawler will be the first to welcome Larkin to his new 185-pound home at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy on July 14.
The match-up with Lawler is one fans will get a lot out of, Larkin explained. He played spectator to the internet buzz once the bout was officially announced, and says his contest with “Ruthless” can cause more excitement than the featured bout between middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and challenger Tim Kennedy.
“Everybody’s excited,” he says. “Sometimes when I read it, (fans) are more excited about that fight than the main event.”
Most fighters attempt to stay focused on their next fight, avoiding talk about future opponents, potential title shots, or anything else that might lead them astray from the course of their training camp. Larkin is no different, explaining that his crosshairs are centered on Lawler.
A win over Lawler, however, will arguably throw the young Southern California resident into discussion of contenders for the middleweight Strikeforce title. He’s obviously thought about it, but looking too far into the future will blind him to the present, which consists of working with a new gym.
The change in training camp came following Larkin’s last fight, which was against Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. Although Lawal tested positive for an anabolic steroid, drostanolone, following the fight, Larkin initially fell to to his opponent by technical knockout. Being put on his back with relative ease in the fight forced Larkin and his camp to rethink their approach.
“We had to come back and work on his wrestling, and that’s what he’s been doing,” says Larkin’s manager and trainer Arnold DeWitt.
Larkin says he didn’t feel like he was getting enough out of his last gym in Riverside, Calif. While his stand-up game was getting the attention it needed, the ground game was being neglected.
“Striking was going good, but everything else wasn’t coming together,” Larkin recalled. “I wasn’t doing enough wrestling, I wasn’t doing enough jiu-jitsu.”
Since moving to Empire MMA, and working in correlation with Millennium MMA, Larkin finds the ground training he was missing before the Lawal fight. Now things are coming together as he cuts his way down to the middleweight ranks.
On July 14, Larkin will be out to show something to those that still have a bad taste in their mouths from his last performance. Some might think that he can’t handle top-ranked competition.
“I’m ready to prove to everybody that I am.”