In the wake of his biggest career opportunity and perhaps his worst setback, James Vick has made some major adjustments and is ready to bounce back.
Vick had to wait five years after his UFC debut for a shot against a true contender and was finally awarded the opportunity last August against Justin Gaethje at UFC Fight Night 135. The fight did not go Vick’s way, losing via first-round knockout to the former World Series of Fighting lightweight champion. The brutal loss ended Vick’s four-fight win streak and set him back in terms of title aspirations.
“The Texecutioner” took some time off to reflect on the loss and makes his much anticipated return against the crafty Paul Felder on Feb. 17 at UFC on ESPN 1. One notable detail is that the fight will be conducted at lightweight; speculation arose after the Gaethje fight that the 6-foot-3 Vick might take the opportunity to move up to welterweight.
Vick was interviewed recently by James Lynch and discussed the errors he made leading up to the Gaethje fight and how and why he decided to stay at 155 pounds (courtesy MMA News):
“[The Gaethje fight] was the worst weight cut I ever had in my life, I was going to die,” Vick said. “It’s hard, everybody wants to say you should move up, you’re too big. But it’s hard to say that when I’ve never followed the program, I’ve always cheated on my diet and I’ve still made weight. I’ve cheated my diet every single time and I’ve still never missed weight. So this time I made sure I’m not cheating my diet. I’m doing what I have to do. George Lockhart is very happy where we’re at, the way my body is leaning out and everything. I’m expecting to be to be there 4-5 pounds lighter.
“I’ve had a problem in the past with sugar,” Vick added. “It’s rough for me to give up food to be honest with you because that’s the only thing in life my life I haven’t sacrificed. Like I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t party. I haven’t drank alcohol in two and a half years. The only thing I have left is my diet. It’s not even bad food as far as like I can eat chicken and broccoli every day. But then I want sugar you know what I’m saying? I’ve pretty much fixed the problem. I realize that unless I’m going to fix it then I’m going to have to move up weight. It’s not that I can’t compete in the next weight class, I one hundred percent know I can. Here I am, it took nine f---ing wins in the UFC to even be ranked where I’m at [at lightweight] how many am I going to have to win in the weight class up? I’d have to win three fights in a row to be ranked in the Top 15.”
Vick was originally scheduled to face Felder last July at UFC Fight Night 133, but pulled out from the fight to take up an offer to fight Gaethje a month later. The 31-year-old Texan is hoping to avoid back-to-back losses with a win over Felder and feels he matches up well with “The Irish Dragon.”
“I see me winning this fight, I think it’s tough,” Vick said. “It can go several ways. Felder has never been finished, he’s no joke. I think he’s well rounded but I can win everywhere. I go to the ground we win, if we stand up I think I can win a decision in this fight. I feel like he’s going to come forward and get frustrated with my movement. I feel like I can hurt him. Joe Duffy had never been knocked out or finished before he fought me either. That being said I’m not going to take any unnecessary risks. I think I can win a decision all day against Felder. Even me moving and going that route won’t be a boring fight. It’s still going to be a super exciting fight. We could definitely get ‘Fight of the Night.”