Heading into this weekend’s UFC 131 event two of the biggest names on the card, Shane Carwin and Kenny Florian who feature in the main and co-main event respectively, are hoping that their recent weight loss will propel them to victory and a potential title shot in their respective divisions.
For Carwin the decision to embrace an all-new diet plan came after his second round loss to Brock Lesnar last year. The heavyweight star came extremely close to claiming the title from the then-champ, but in trying to finish the fight in a frenetic first round he ended up running out of gas, leaving him easy prey for Lesnar in the following round.
The fight exposed a cardio deficiency that had previously lay under wraps with Carwin having previously ended all twelve of his pro-MMA fights inside the opening five mnutes, and fixing that hole in his game became his primary goal as he plotted his return to the top of the division.
The result is a visibly slimmer Carwin, some 25lbs lighter after employing a nutritionist to clean up his diet, taking out the processed foods, and excessive protein supplements, replacing it with healthy alternatives like vegetables, fruits and lean cuts of meat.
On Saturday night against Junior Dos Santos we’ll find out whether the diet was a success or not. The hope will be that he has improved cardio if the fight goes into the later rounds, but it will be also interesting to find out if a leaner Carwin takes away any of his ferocious punching power.
It’s a fine balance, and if he and his team have got it wrong then it could cost him his second shot at the heavyweight title.
Meanwhile long-time lightweight contender Kenny Florian has also banked on a weight cut boosting his title chances. The difference is that for Florian that meant a change in weight class – moving down to featherweight (145lbs), and the move was more strategic than driven by a desire to enhance his performance.
In many ways it was a smart choice – having lost out in two title fights at 155lbs, and just been beaten in a title eliminator Florian found himself in limbo in his favored divison.
Meanwhile the UFC had just added the featherweight class and it was crying out for some big name contenders, and so ‘Ken-Flo’ decided to make the drop down in weight, and sure enough, if he defeats Diego Nunes then he is expected to be next in line to face title holder Jose Aldo.
Some eyebrows were raised at the decision given that Florian first entered the UFC via The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 competing at 185lbs, and he already appeared to be looking lean at lightweight, never mind take an additional 10lbs off.
Like Carwin, Florian enlisted the aid of a nutrionist to help out and embarked on a strict, calorie controlled diet of lean chicken breast and green vegetables to get down to his new weight class.
The 35 year-old admits it’s been far from easy, but he claims he feels strong at 145lbs.
We’ll find out for sure whether that’s the case, or of this is simply a weight class too far when he steps into the Octagon with Diego Nunes in just a couple of days time.