- Jake Rossen, MMA
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To hear newly minted welterweight Mike Swick tell it, the road to dropping down a weight division involves eating more.
"For [Yushin] Okami, I was 182 pounds in the ring," Swick told a group of reporters gathered for a conference call promoting UFC Fight Night 12. "Since then, I've gained a lot of weight and worked on my strength."
Swick was 188 pounds when he began his training camp. He has fought as a middleweight for the majority of his UFC career, but he will meet Josh Burkman at 170 pounds.
Burkman has won three of his last four bouts, having recently won a split decision over Forrest Petz. Swick has taken five of his last six, dropping the last bout with Okami.
It is not, however, Swick's first time taking it easy on the scales.
"In 1997, when I started out, I was 161, 170," he recalled of his amateur days. "Obviously, I walked at that weight; I never cut to the weight it just happened at the time I turned pro and went to [training camp] AKA that every fight they were giving me was middleweight, so I just kind of adapted to it. I got a little bigger and was pretty much just walking at the weight I was fighting at."
Staying at middleweight, Swick explained, was due to a steady stream of offers for high-profile fights.
"It's always been a thought to go down, especially since [I got into] the UFC. I've been debating on going down and fighting at my normal weight class. I just kept getting bigger fights and taking them, and I was getting so close [to a title] that I didn't want to stop.
"After the Okami loss, instead of working my way back up in the middleweight ranks, I figured I would go ahead and work my way up in the welterweight [division], where I should've been fighting."
Swick, who admitted he "doesn't like to diet," stated that the drop has been going according to plan.
"I feel really good," he said. "I've done a couple test cuts, and this is actually my weight class. I feel really good dropping it's put me in really good shape. I think that put me at a whole other level I've never been at before. I think it's a good thing. And right now, I'm right where I need to be. I feel like it's going to be a good cut, and I feel very energized."
In addition to being affiliated with Spike's "The Ultimate Fighter" series (Swick was a Season 1 contestant, Burkman Season 2), both men have struck up a casual friendship.
"Me and Mike have always gotten along really well," Burkman said. "Every time we see each other, we usually wind up having conversations and saying hi. We're actually kind of buddies. But obviously for the last eight weeks, every time I've pictured him, it's been me punching him in the face. I'm sure me and Mike will be buddies again after this, but I'm sure neither one of us thinks that highly of each other right now. But like I said, I have a lot of respect for Mike and I think he's a good guy."
Burkman, who had trained previously with Tito Ortiz at the fighter's estate in Big Bear, Calif., remained at home in Salt Lake City, Utah, for this entry.
"Evan Tanner has been coming down and training with me, helping me get ready," Burkman said. "It's nice to be back home. I was going up there to Big Bear and training with those guys, and it was good, but it's nice to be in your bed and it's nice to be home training with a camp that's for me. Those guys are all there focused on me, helping me get ready, rotating on me."
Both men appear cognizant of the dangers the other can offer.
"Obviously, he might be going for takedowns," Swick mused. "I don't want to get taken down. I just don't want him to take control of the fight. That's the biggest concern with any fight."
Burkman referenced his opponent's nickname, "Quick," when asked about Swick's biggest weapon.
"He came out there against two guys and pop, popped on them quick," Burkman said. "Just not letting him put off those flurries and land them. His speed is probably the thing we were most concerned about. I trained with a lot of guys who were a lot taller, some boxers, and we just tried to simulate him as much as we could."
Swick promised that observers -- including expected attendees Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- would witness an exciting fight against Burkman.
"He's a good name fighter and he's very explosive, strong, with good takedowns," Swick said of his first UFC welterweight foe. "I expect it to be a war, and I'm ready to give one."
Jake Rossen contributes to Sherdog.com.
Who needs friends? Things will be anything but amicable when "Ultimate Fighter" contestants Mike Swick and Josh Burkman put their friendship to the side and collide at UFC Fight Night 12.