Nik Lentz had heard the criticism. He’d read the articles and the fan posts saying he was a boring fighter. He also knew his drop to 145 pounds to fight Eiji Mitsuoka at UFC 150 was his chance to change everyone’s view.
“In my head I knew that I was going to make a statement and I was going to show the world that I was a new person, that I did all the things I needed to do and I was one weight class lower,” Lentz told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I felt like everything I did, all the training and stuff leading up to the fight, worked out.”
Lentz dominated, stopping Mitsuoka 3:45 into the opening round. The victory was the culmination of wholesale changes in his preparation.
“I changed everything in my life as far as diet-wise, conditioning and training, strength training, all that kind of stuff,” Lentz said. “I definitely am a 100-percent different person since making the move to 145 pounds.”
Lentz trained for the bout at American Top Team in Florida. That’s where he plans on doing his fight camps from now on, though the Minnesota native will be training at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy when he’s home.
“I don’t really feel like I left [Minnesota Martial Arts Academy] behind as much as I just needed some more training opportunities,” Lentz explained. “There’s definitely nothing wrong with the training here in Minnesota. The only thing I needed was, I just needed some different partners. I needed some different looks and just to talk to people that could give me different views, see different holes in my game and fix them. I wasn’t getting the job done. I made a few mistakes that, looking back, I could have easily fixed. I could have maybe not lost a few fights and stuff like that, but overall it all kind of worked out to where I just kind of knew I had to make a life change. I knew that if I wanted to pursue being a champion in the UFC, if I wanted to pursue this as a full-time career, like I have for all these years, that I was going to have to make some big changes and I just did it.”
The decision appears to have paid off. Not only did Lentz deliver his most impressive UFC performance to date, finishing a fight in the first round, he also kept his job.
“I had lost the fight before that,” he said. “Anytime you lose a fight, if you lose two, three fights, you’re looking for a job somewhere else. Seeing how I’ve invested all my time into fighting, what am I going to do? Go and apply for a job and say I haven’t had one in eight years? There’s not much I could do. Once I beat [Mitsuoka], I was happy and secured in my job. I did it with a statement and I showed the world that at 145 pounds, people are going to get messed up by me.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 15:40).