Luis Pena was an undefeated lightweight up until his last fight, when he came up short against TUF 27 winner Mike Trizano. Then, after the fight, the man they call ‘Violent Bob Ross’ announced that he would be moving down to the featherweight division.
This news came as a bit of a shock to some, given that Pena is 6’3″. Pena himself, however, feels it’s the right move.
“I am almost too comfortable at lightweight,” Pena told BJPENN.com. “Right now, it is almost too easy to make lightweight, I don’t suffer at all. The move down to featherweight was always going to happen regardless. We had always planned to go down to featherweight after this fight. People don’t understand I may be 6’3” but inside a camp there are days where I walk around under 160.
“I’m just naturally long and lanky like this. I am naturally built like this, I’m naturally this tall and super skinny. I can’t help it,” Pena added. “If you saw my diet you would wonder how the hell I made 155 at 6’3”. I don’t even eat a crazy intense diet to maintain it. It is literally just naturally how I am. There are days were I make two meals for dinner for myself.”
At featherweight Pena will have a huge height and reach advantage over most of his opponents. Having previously fought lightweights who he believes outweighed him by more than 20 pounds, this is a welcome change.
If you’ve been paying attention to the MMA headlines, you likely know that Pena already has an opponent in mind for his featherweight debut. That is none other than Artem Lobov, a long-time friend and training partner of Conor McGregor.
“It just made sense for me. We are both coming off of losses. In my debut I beat one of his training partner out of [SBG Ireland],” Pena said, explaining the reason for his callout of Lobov. “Then there is the whole controversy between [American Kickboxing Academy] and SBG with the Khabib and McGregor stuff. I thought it just made sense and career-wise and to get the fans talking. I thought it would be a matchup a lot of people would talk about. Plus, I wouldn’t mind sending that guy back to whatever regional scene he belongs in.”
While Luis Pena believes a fight Artem Lobov makes sense, he doesn’t think it would be a particularly difficult night of work. He believes his reach and wrestling would be too much for the Russian.
“It would be really hard for him to get in and once he does I would take him down at will. It wouldn’t be a good matchup for him at all,” Pena said. “I don’t see where he would be comfortable.”
“It depends on what Artem you see. If he comes out gun blazing like he normally does, it could be [a quick finish],” Pena added. “No disrespect to him, I just don’t seem him as a threat, especially on the ground. I feel as though as soon as I want to take it to the mat it would be over.”
Even though Pena is riding a loss, he’s confident that he is rapidly improving in the gym. Part of the reason why is the fact that he is training at AKA with the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez.
“It is one of those things, and you have to sit there and you can’t let yourself get into the mindset of ‘oh I’m training with Cain, I’m training with Khabib.’ You have to treat it as a normal person,” he said. “Then outside of that you pick their brain of whatever you can and whatever advice you can get. Those guys have been in the game and at the highest level for the longest time.”
Training alongside fighters like Nurmagomedov and Cormier has also helped Pena understand the proper way to train. He now understands exactly the level of preparation it takes to become a UFC champion.
“I kind of use it a blueprint, especially when ‘DC’ is in the room. We have our strength and conditioning workout and you go 30 minutes straight and every minute you are doing a different workout,” Pena said. “I always make sure I would stagger my group with DC’s and do whatever the hell he did. I knew if I could do whatever the hell he could do then I could hang through any workout.”
How do you think Luis Pena will perform in the stacked UFC featherweight division?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/29/2018.