We often hear about guys in combat sports fighting in multiple weight classes. UFC fighters like Rich Franklin, Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, BJ Penn, Urijah Faber and more have all fought in two or more weight classes over the course of their respective careers. Whether it is to gain a competitive edge, move on to new challenges, put together a big-money fight or some other reason, some guys simply lend themselves nicely to moving around divisions.
For newly signed Maximum Fighting Championship (MFC) fighter Nick Hinchliffe, it isn't the fact that he's fought in three weight classes that piques peoples' interest though. Hinchliffe, a former football player who—at 275 pounds—wasn't under the heavyweight limit, is now fighting in the welterweight division.
Yes, that welterweight division; the division where fighters have to make the 170 pound limit.
"When I first walked into Impact MMA, I was about 275 pounds fresh off the football field, so from there we started working at getting off some of the big bulky muscle that I didn't need anymore," Hinchliffe told Bleacher Report. "I've been waiting for my Subway sponsorship [laughingly], a lot of guys who see me that I used to play ball with or even guys I went to high school with [...] just can't believe the difference; people do the double-take or triple-take to make sure that's who I am."
Up until now, Hinchliffe was bouncing between 185 pounds and 170 pounds, but he expects to stay at welterweight for now considering his signing with the MFC.
One of Hinchliffe's first fights at 170 pounds was against current UFC welterweight up-and-comer Rory MacDonald. Many people see MacDonald as the guy to replace Georges St-Pierre in the division once St-Pierre is unseated or decides to move on to new things.
The Hinchliffe vs. MacDonald fight at King of the Cage Canada: Disturbed back in 2009 was actually MacDonald's spring board fight to the big show.
"I took the Rory Mac[Donald] fight on short notice because nobody wanted to take it," Hinchliffe said. "So I took it and actually made welterweight in I think in four weeks or three weeks I did that cut. It was a little bit of a speedy cut, probably not a good idea against a killer like Rory Mac, but live and learn right?"
"Honestly he's [MacDonald] a different fighter from now to then, but he was really good when we first fought for sure," Hinhliffe said. "It was a back and forth fight; it was a really competitive fight. We were both on the winning and losing end of things [..] He's a very good grappler, and we got tangled up and I had no arms free and he had one arm free and he was able to keep pelting away. I wasn't able to get out of that position, and the ref was only going to let me get hit in the face for so long so he had to stop the fight."
MacDonald is a very tough fight, even for the guys who are the best in the world, but Hinchliffe considers himself a warrior and will always take the fights other guys would turn down.
"I've fought in three different weight classes, I've fought lots of guys that have been in the UFC, I've fought guys that fought in Pride, my kind of shtick is that I will fight anybody, and I've always kind of stuck to that," Hinchliffe said. "I'm impressed by guys that have done what they've done and gone as far as they have, but a man is still a man and a man can always be beaten. I'm the guy where if nobody wants to fight that guy, you call me and I'm going to take the fight."
Not that nobody wants to fight him, but Hinchliffe's next fight at MFC 34 on August 10 is against the younger brother of Bellator welterweight tournament finalist Douglas Lima, Dhiego. Despite being young in his career, Dhiego is a hot prospect with a 6-1-0 record with all six wins coming by way of knockout or submission.
Dhiego is the kind of fighter that could derail another fighter's plans for the future; he is young, hungry and finishes fights. Hinchliffe respects Dhiego, but he will be up to the challenge come August 10.
"I think he [Dhiego Lima] is a totally game opponent. I mean it's a great fight, he's extremely well rounded and he obviously comes from a great camp," Hinchliffe said. "Those Brazilian guys, they're tough, they've got a good head on their shoulders, and they always bring the fight and bring it hard."
Although fans can probably expect fireworks in this fight—both guys will be looking to take each other's heads off—Hinchliffe likes the fact that there is a mutual respect between them.
"The one thing I definitely appreciate leading up to this fight is I've read a lot of his [Lima's] interviews and I've read a lot of my interviews and we both agree to come out real hard, but we're not dogging each other and we're not trash talking each other," Hinchliffe said.
The MFC has television deals with AXS TV (formerly HDNet) and TSN 2 and is is picking up steam in North America because of that. In addition to the TV deals, former MFC light-heavyweight champion Ryan Jimmo burst on to the UFC scene two weekends ago tying the fastest knockout in UFC history at seven seconds with his win over Anthony Perosh. Things are looking good for the MFC and the fighters competing under its banner.
If Hinchliffe can get himself on a run in the MFC, he might be able to take his career to the UFC like Ryan Jimmo did. It can obviously only start with a big win over Lima next week.
To watch Lima and Hinchliffe go at it at MFC 34, fans can either watch it on AXS TV live, live at the Mayfield Trade Center in Edmonton, Alberta or by tape delay on TSN 2. Fans can follow Hinchliffe on Twitter @NickHinchliffe
Leon Horne enjoys all sports and has a particular interest in MMA; give him a follow on Twitter for more information and keep an eye out for interesting interviews and news,Follow @Leon_Horne