This Sunday at UFC Hamburg, undefeated Justin Ledet (9-0) will square off against Austrian Aleksandar Rakić as the opening fight of the FS1 prelims. This fight will mark the light heavyweight debut for Ledet, who disclosed that the move from heavyweight down to 205 was not only for professional reasons, but due to lifestyle changes geared towards living healthier:
“I did a bunch of research and just a bunch of different things…did a lot of reading,” Ledet began in an interview with MMA Junkie Radio. “And I wanted to become vegetarian, and that’s what I did. For eight months, I was vegetarian.
“It’s totally different being a fighter and a martial artist, and I want to be a martial artist, and my health is my biggest concern. I want to live a long, healthy life and be functional up in age. And being vegetarian, being vegan, that’s the best way to go.
“So away from fighting, that’s what I wanted to change about my life. So when that happened, I already knew that I was gonna have to drop down a weight class. So really, that’s the reason I moved down to 205.”
And now that he’s at light heavyweight, Ledet’s goal is to put the division on notice this Sunday:
“There’s a lot of light heavyweights on this card and it’s my first light heavyweight fight in the UFC,” Ledet said. I actually started my career at light heavyweight, but I was a lot younger then, but I’m here to shake things up and let people know that, hey, man, I’m a real contender, especially in the light heavyweight division. And I’mma start stopping some people. And that’s the goal right there, to shake things up.
“They ranked me top 15 before I left the heavyweight division. So I’m coming in to get a win and, hopefully, get in that top 10.”
But Ledet isn’t only looking to put his peers on notice, he is also serving notice to his employer: stop overlooking and underbooking me:
“The UFC won’t book me,” Ledet said. “Like I said, last year after my September fight, I wanted to get back in the ring, you know? And they said they couldn’t book me before the end of the year. So I was like, all right, well, I’ll take that time to go down to the 205. I gave them a timeline of when I’ll be ready. I said I’ll be ready March.
“And then, they hit me with the July fight. So I feel like I have no momentum, so I feel like I have something to prove. I feel like they’re kinda overlooking me like I’m nobody. So I gotta come in here and show them that I am somebody that they need to start looking at and promoting, and that I am somebody in the light heavyweight division.”
As to why the UFC may not be giving Ledet the limelight he believes he deserves, Ledet does not have the answer, but he has decided to adopt a positive mindset about the potential reason that puts the onus on him:
“I guess I haven’t been putting on good enough performances. That’s the way I’m looking at it. I’m not coming with a negative view. I’m looking at the positive side of everything. And hey, you know what? If I’m not doing my job good enough, all right, all right. I’m coming in here to fight and do my job even better, and that’s how I’m looking at the situation. If they don’t want to give me fights, then obviously I’m not creating excitement in my fights.
“So this fight’s definitely gonna be exciting one way or another. I’m not looking to go in this fight and win at all…a win or a loss, that’s not what I’m looking to do. I’m going in here for a performance, and it’s gonna be a fuckin’ badass performance. Because I’m coming in here just to show the UFC that, hey, man, I’m one of the fighters you need to start putting on every card that I want to be on.”
UFC Fight Night 134 takes place this Sunday, July 22nd from the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany. FS1 prelims air 12PM ET, with the main card airing at 2PM ET, both on FS1. The Fight Pass Prelims begin at 10:30AM ET.
How do you think Justin Ledet will fair in the light heavyweight division?