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Training is going well for my UFC debut against Brock Lesnar on December 30 at UFC 141. I said it when I was sat on a stage next to him, and I will repeat it here, I am not underestimating Lesnar, but I will rip him apart piece by piece and go on to win Junior dos Santos' UFC heavyweight title after I dispense of Lesnar.
However, there has been a big change since my last Yahoo! Sports blog. I am now training for Lesnar in Holland. I flew back about a week ago. I don’t want to go too deep into personal matters, but what happened was my mother is recovering from cancer and needs my support. She needs me in Holland over the next couple of weeks and I came back for her.
What I can say is that going back to Holland to be with my mother won't be a distraction; it is actually stopping me from getting distracted. If I stayed in Las Vegas for this camp I would be constantly worried about her and my focus would have been compromised. Now I can train 100 percent, and know she’s just across town.
The training for this bout marks the final couple of miles on a road I began on when I was a kid as a kickboxer. It’s been a long, twisting road, a road with a lot of bumps and roadblocks on it. I’ve lost big fights, I’ve missed opportunities. But, you know what? All that has made me stronger. It has made me a champion and it has made me – in my mind, and fighters have to believe in themselves – the best heavyweight on the planet.
I have been asked how I went from a good light heavyweight fighter in PRIDE, a guy who beat some top opponents but didn’t dominate the division, to being a dominant champion as a heavyweight.
In MMA, the thing to do is go down in weight after a loss, that’s what you have seen with guys like B.J. Penn and Kenny Florian, and they have proved that the right thing to do by their results.
But I have always done my own thing my own way, so I did the opposite. I went up in weight.
Everyone around me, including friends of mine I have known since we were kids, knew right away it was the right call when I moved to heavyweight full time in 2007. Some fans and MMA media didn’t understand it, they thought “How is he going to do any better at heavyweight, he will not do as well as at 205 lbs.” but I make the decision after taking a hard look at myself.
I took an honest look at myself and made some hard decisions. While I had some impressive results like beating Vitor Belfort twice, I was not living up to my potential and I took a good look at the reasons why. I decided that one of the main reasons I wasn’t living up to my talents was I was starving myself to make 205lbs. I could not eat correctly, could not train weights. I was weak at the weight and wasn’t even healthy, much less fit and healthy.
I knew putting on enough weight to where I was able to compete with the top heavies would take time. I also know that as soon as I started eating well and had the energy to work out with weights I would add mass right away. But it took time for me to get bigger and grow into a powerful heavyweight.
I have no problem saying that I think I can match power with Brock Lesnar. In fact the UFC poster for our fight has Brock and me side by side with our measurements and I am the bigger man.
There are some fighters who I think are born great, guys like Georges St. Pierre and Jon Jones. I was born a very good fighter, but I have to work very hard to get to "great" and that’s why I have made so many sacrifices already to win the UFC title.
Plus – and this is something fighters never ever usually admit – the fact is 205 lbs is a division stacked with talent and the heavyweight division doesn’t have that many world class fighters. I am happy to admit that. At 205 lbs., you have a great champion in Jon Jones, and very talented guys like Lyoto Machida, Rampage, Ryan Bader, Forrest Griffin, Dan Henderson, Shogun Rua – the list goes on and on. Anyone in the top 15 at light heavyweight is a dangerous fight, while at heavyweight, if I am honest, there’s maybe eight or nine true world class fighters competing at heavyweight.
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