Nik Lentz: “I’m Going To Be The Strongest And The Most Technical, And I’m Going To Take People Out.”
By Tom Taylor
Nik “The Carny” Lentz began his MMA career as a lightweight (155 lbs.), losing only three times in his first eighteen fights. Eventually, after entering the UFC and reeling off six wins and a draw, Lentz ran into Charles Oliveira.
That bout saw Oliveira rattle Lentz with an illegal knee, and the fight was ruled a no contest. From there, Lentz lost to Mark Bocek by unanimous decision, and then lost again to Evan Dunham by doctor stoppage.
Despite his successes before these recent losses, Lentz has opted to drop to featherweight (145 lbs.), hoping to reinvigorate his career. In the midst of his transition between weight classes, Lentz took time out his schedule to speak with Full Contact Fighter.
While his two most recent fights were losses, Lentz is not shifting to the featherweight division because he feels he can’t compete at lightweight. He does not believe the losses were indicative of his abilities.
“The [Mark] Bocek fight, I thought I won,” said Lentz. “I mean Bocek didn’t do anything to me. He took me down a few times, but he didn’t do any kind of damage or anything. Game-plan-wise, I should have been a little smarter, but overall I thought I was the better fighter.
“Then when it came to [Evan] Dunham, I clearly won the first round, and then he won the second round and he landed that really good elbow, but the elbow was more luck than anything else. Overall I didn’t have a problem with continuing at ’55.”
Lentz believes that, with some minor tweaks to his fight preparation routine, he could return to the winning track in the lightweight division.
“The only thing I needed to do was just tighten up the training and maybe expand the gyms I was working out with, and try to learn a few new things,” said Lentz. “I just needed to change a few things. The first thing I started changing was (my fighting style) because I wanted to be more exciting and I wanted to finish more fights and stuff.
“At the same time I was working with a lot of different coaches,” he continued. “ I’ve been going around. You know, the last few fights have just been a little bit of growing pains.”
Despite his confidence in his abilities in the 155-pound division, all it took was some input from MMA nutritionist Mike Dolce for Lentz to begin considering a change in division.
“I started talking to Mike Dolce just because he’s the best nutritionist, and he’s the one who kind of put it in perspective that I could make ’45,” said Lentz. “I thought maybe it was a possibility but, without a proper nutritionist, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it and be able to fight correctly.”
Lentz admits that he did feel undersized against his opponents at times —a factor that made the drop to featherweight that much more appealing.
“When I first got in the UFC, I felt like was having a bit of trouble because I had lost some weight and it did make a bit of a difference,” he said. “I’m relatively short for the weight class and my reach isn’t all that long for the weight class, so 145 is definitely going to be a better fit for that.”
Now that he has made a commitment to drop to the 145-lb. division, Lentz is eager to get the transformation underway.
“I’m super excited. I called him [Dolce] up and said ‘Hey, I was thinking about working with you.
“Eventually he got back to me, and I’m really excited to work with him. You know, there are a lot of nutritionists around, but very few—in fact I would say almost none of them—understand nutrition when it comes to weight cutting and sports that revolve around how much you weigh. It’s very rare to find a nutritionist that actually understands MMA and our weight cutting nutrition.”
Lentz has already begun the famous Dolce Diet. The effectiveness of the diet, coupled with his own dedication, Lentz says, has allowed him to commence the drop in weight without even meeting Dolce in person.
“I’m dieting right now. We talk on the phone, and we email,” Lentz said. “We can do everything pretty much, besides him cooking for me and running the workout. There’s really nothing that he needs to be here for right this second.
“Some guys he needs to be with just to keep the discipline and make sure they stay on track, but that’s not going to be a problem with me because I’m one hundred percent motivated and I want to be a world champion. The only person that can mess it up is me.
“If he [Dolce] says eat grass for five months, I’ll eat grass for five months. Obviously he doesn’t say that, but he doesn’t have to be here for me to follow the diet.”
With the cut underway, Lentz can look forward to his first fight at 145 pounds. He is not sure when his debut at featherweight will occur, however.
“I asked the UFC for a little bit of time after my last fight because I’ve had so many fights in a row, and I’m getting married on the 19th of May. So I asked them if they’d start looking in the July range. If I had to guess, it’d be around the end of July or August range, but right now nothing is decided.”
When Lentz does enter the featherweight division, he expects to make an immediate splash.
“I think I’m going to be one of the best in the world for sure at ’45, right away. As far as the weight class, I’m just getting into it. I’ve been at ’55 for so long, I mean, my brain only comprehends the ’55 pounders, so I don’t know all the ’45 pounders perfectly. At the beginning it’s just going to be taking it the one fight at a time, but making a statement every time I go out there. Not just winning—but every time I go out at 145 pounds, I’m going to make a statement,”
Eager to get his run at featherweight underway, Lentz has dedicated himself in and outside of the octagon to his refreshed career at featherweight.
“I hired a nutritionist, and now I’m working with Eddie Bravo a lot. Then I went down to Florida and I worked with some of the guys at American Top Team, and I’ve still got my team here, too. I took the fight of the night bonus that I got ($65,000), and pretty much all of it has been right invested into training.”
When he does begin his career at featherweight, Lentz says he can promise the fans memorable fights as he attempts to make his mark on the division.
“Expect exciting fights and a lot of wins, and me having my hand raised. That’s what’s going to happen. Once I get in the ring at ’45. I’m going to be the strongest and the most technical, and I’m going to take people out.”