Shalorus prepared for war in Newark
For the many fighters who competed in the WEC in 2010, in the immortal words of Bob Dylan, "The times they are a-changin'."
But those words ring most true for the lightweights who competed in the WEC's heaviest weight division. While the bantamweights and featherweights enter into the UFC with little change to their rosters, the WEC lightweights have been thrown into the highly-competitive UFC 155 lb. shark tank, which features top fighters such as champion Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, and Jim Miller.
Shalorus, who is 7-0-2 as a professional, fought on three occasions in the UFC's former sister promotion, earning three victories and one draw. The man nicknamed "Prince of Persia" looks back on his time wearing the blue gloves fondly, but is ready to take the step up to the big show and highest level of competition.
"I miss the WEC," Shalorus told HeavyMMA.com earlier this week. "I loved the WEC. Of course they are the same organization, like brother and sister. On the other hand, it’s a big opportunity for me to show my skills in the UFC. Everybody wants to go to the UFC."
Since the merger, several former WEC lightweights have had success against the competition thrust against them in their new home, proving the ability of the new kids in town to succeed at the highest level. Still, the change is a massive one. Instead of fighting in smaller shows that were shown live on Versus, these fighters now find themselves featured in prominent match ups with serious implications.
Such is the case for Shalorus, who will look to defeat Miller on the pay-per-view portion of UFC 128. While many, including Shalorus, will say that there is not much of a difference, he does believe that certain changes will come his way and that his preparation for this fight has been unlike any other, though many similarities remain.
"No, it’s the same," Shalorus said about making the move to the UFC. "Every fight you are accepting, you have to be prepared. The (larger) crowd, the bigger show, and more experienced fighters of course (are different). There’s more training, and I brought in a better sparring partner this time. I’ve prepared better."
Though only months have passed since the UFC-WEC merger, Zuffa, LLC has stayed active in terms of building its brand. Just last week, the company purchased the San Jose based promotion Strikeforce in a move that no one saw coming.
While the UFC and Strikeforce will remain separate for the time being, the addition is one step closer to placing the top fighters in each division on the same roster. The thought of all the top fighters in the world fighting in just one organization at some point in the coming years may be hard to imagine, but it is something Shalorus is thrilled about.
After all, what better way to determine who the very best in the world is in each weight class?
"I think now you are going to find out who is really the world champion because all the fighters are going to come to one organization," Shalorus said. "Absolutely everybody is going to be challenged. It’s going to be, ‘Who is the real tough guy?’ From the WEC, from Strikeforce, from the UFC, everybody is going to challenge in the Octagon. If you really, really win and be champion, you are the champion. World champion."
But before Shalorus can begin thinking about taking home a lightweight title, he must first defeat a very game Miller, who is currently cruising on a six-fight winning streak, including his impressive submission victory over Charles Oliveira at UFC 124.
Shalorus understands the position he is in - facing a contender in his UFC debut - and says he is ready to take a big step up the lightweight ladder of contention. And, for the fans, he says to expect an absolute war on March 19 in Newark, New Jersey.
"Jim Miller is a very good fighter," Shalorus said. "I want to show the UFC and prove WEC fighters and Kamal Shalorus (are) tough, too.
"(Expect) a victory. I’m 100% ready, mentally, physically, and am so excited for this fight. I fight from my heart. The fans are going to love it. We are going to have a war between me and Jim Miller."