Jason Lambert (23-8 MMA, 4-3 MMA) was riding high in 2006. Riding an eight-fight win streak, including three wins in the UFC, "The Punisher" was on top of the world.
But after three losses in his next four fights, Lambert made the decision to try the UFC's middleweight division. Lambert will make his 185 pound debut for the UFC at UFC 88 in Atlanta this Saturday night.
Lambert discussed the process for dropping to 185 pounds while a recent guest of TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
"After my last 205 (pound) fight I didn't go back up to my normal walk-around weight," Lambert explained. "I stayed right around 205 (pounds). So it wasn't too hard for me to start getting down to [185 pounds]."
Lambert said with two days left before weigh-ins he is already at his target weight.
"I'm not cutting right now," Lambert said. "I'm ready. I've been focusing on keeping my power and strength. I think it should be a good time for me to get down to [185 pounds]."
Lambert had fought at 185 pounds earlier in his career, but had fought excusively at 205 pounds while signed with the UFC. The North County Fight Club product had hoped for an opportunity to try a practice run at making the weight, but UFC plan changes didn't allow that luxury.
"People have been asking me if I did [a mock weight cut]," Lambert said. "I was waiting to hear from the UFC. I was asking them for a fight and they weren't getting back to me. So I didn’t think that I had a fight.
"I was waiting, and then they came back with September when I thought I was going to fight in October because they hadn't gotten back to me. So I was getting ready to do [a mock cut], and then they called. So I didn't want to do a mock one when I was starting to ramp up for a training camp. I just put it on hold and started training for the fight."
Lambert said that differences in training were necessary, but that diet was the biggest factor in reaching the lower weight class.
"I've been doing a lot of the circuits and stuff like that with my strength coach," Lambert said. "It's just real high-energy, really fast-paced circuits with all kinds of things.
"I've had a dietitian for a while, I just never listened to him. I just had to pay a little more attention to what he was telling me. Just be smart about it so I'm not having to cut too much and killing myself."
In addition to dealing with a new weight class, Lambert was also forced to deal with an opponent change just three weeks out from the fight. Lambert's original opponent, Jason Day, was forced off the card due to an arm injury and veteran middleweight Jason MacDonald filled in.
Lambert said the change was not an issue.
"[Opponent changes] are just part of the business," Lambert said. "Things like that happen, so you can't let it just completely rattle you. You've just got to be ready for it.
"You can kick and throw a tantrum and all that, but it's not going to do you any good. Re-focus on who you've got now and get back in there in the gym. Maybe tweak some things mentally. But typically you prepare the same for anybody. It's usually just mostly mental for me -- doing the visualizations and things like that with whoever I'm going to be fighting."
Lambert has suffered through a tough stretch in his recent bouts. But the recent struggles haven't deterred him from wanting to put on a great show for the fans.
"I want to go out there and excite the fans," Lambert said. "I always have had exciting fights, and I'm always looking to be fight of the night. I do get a little bit nervous, but it's more so the fact that I want to have a really good showing."
Lambert hopes to excite a ground that he knows has the potential of being quite loud.
"I anticipate a crazy crowd," Lambert said. "I think my fight with (Renato) 'Babalu' (Sobral) was the first fight in Ohio, and that place was a zoo. I couldn't believe the streets -- everywhere was just packed. It was just crazy.
"I'm expecting it to be like that here. Because anytime it's the first time [the UFC] comes to a place, usually it's pretty crazy."