Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 alum Ran Weathers is gearing up for one of the biggest fights of his career against Rafael Dias in the Battle Xtreme Championship “The Rise” headliner on Saturday at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
The event -- which includes matchups featuring 2004 Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann and UFC veterans Drew McFedries and Rory Markham -- will stream live on Sherdog.com at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Weathers first became involved in combat sports when he transferred from a local community college to Kennesaw State University, now the second-largest school in the state of Georgia, to work on his computer science degree. He had become a fan of the UFC at a time when Royce Grace had burst on the scene winning fights against much larger opponents with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu expertise. When Weathers found a Brazilian jiu-jitsu school in his area, he signed up and took an amateur fight just one month later, albeit against the advice of his coaches. Although he lost the fight, it awakened him to the knowledge that he had found his calling.
“I had braces at the time and no mouth guard,” Weathers told Sherdog.com. “I got my ass kicked, but I knew then that I loved to fight.”
He went on to compete in seven more amateur bouts within the year, winning five of them. Weathers made his professional MMA debut in November 2005 and rattled off three consecutive victories. He then decided to take a break from MMA to concentrate solely on Brazilian jiu-jitsu and did so for two years, performing well in grappling competitions. Before long, he felt the need to fight again.
Around the same time, a group of Weathers’ friends decided to open an American Top Team franchise and asked him if he would teach. Even though he had already put three years towards his degree, he left college to train and instruct in Florida. Weathers fought four times under the American Top Team banner, winning each of them. However, when the opportunity arose for him to train at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in 2008 -- the manager of his gym was close friends with one of trainer Greg Jackson’s coaches -- he moved to Albuquerque, N.M., and has remained there ever since.
Weathers takes four to five fights per year, many of them lately on short notice. His two most notable victories have come at the expense of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 winner Diego Brandao and WEC veteran Phil Cardella. Weathers last competed in April -- on a week’s notice -- when he defeated Sean Dyer by unanimous decision inside the Cedartown Beatdown promotion.
His bout with Dias will be his third since April 7. However, Weathers enjoyed close to a full training camp for the fight, with three to four weeks’ notice.
“I want this fight more than any other I’ve had in my life,” he said. “I need it more than any other. I’m more serious than I’ve ever been. I’m not gonna leave anything to chance.”
Weathers supplements his MMA work with a strict diet and grueling cardio regimen, which includes swimming and mountain trail running. He splits his time in the gym between Jackson’s MMA and its sister facility -- UFC veteran Keith Jardine’s Mean1 MMA.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” Weathers said. “[Dias] is strong and very healthy, but I’m prepared to go the distance. That being said, I want to beat him and beat him fast. This fight can open doors for me. I intend to win and get signed with one of the big promotions.”