UFC News: James Te Huna Moving to Middleweight Division

Sean SmithAnalyst IJanuary 9, 2014

May 24, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC light heavyweight James Te-Huna during the weight-in for UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

A UFC light heavyweight since February 2010, James Te Huna is planning a cut to 185 pounds.

The New Zealand native was knocked out by Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC Fight Night 33. Now looking at back-to-back losses, a frustrated Te Huna told The MMA Corner he feels better suited to compete in the middleweight division.

This year, I am excited to take on a new challenge and take on a drop to middleweight... 

It’s about making a fresh new start and taking on a new challenge, and I know I’ll be able to make middleweight. Middleweight is probably a bit more of a natural weight for me. Right now, I am always eating so that I can stay up at light heavyweight. I’m one of the lightest guys at light heavyweight, so I know that if I eat normally I’ll be able to hit middleweight. I've been fighting at light heavyweight for my whole career, but I think that this challenge is the right move.

I’ll do a couple of practice cuts to make sure I can make the weight and it doesn’t affect me. So, I definitely don’t see myself fighting within the next three months. I just need to make sure I can do it and I can fight at the weight. I think it’s the right thing for my career, and I’m looking forward to what the new challenge is going to bring.

Despite his recent slump, Te Huna will end his run at light heavyweight as a Top 15 contender in the UFC's 205-pound class. Sporting a 5-3 record in the division, Te Huna only lost to Top 10 light heavyweights Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira and Rua inside the Octagon.

Between September 2011 and February 2013, the 32-year-old won four straight fights and established himself as a fringe contender at 205 pounds. Repeated losses to elite light heavyweights have crushed Te Huna's title hopes, though.

Not getting any younger, a change of scenery may be what he needs to make a more spirited run at a UFC championship.

First, Te Huna will need to work his way up the middleweight ladder. Having lost his past two fights, it's probable he'll have to begin his climb against an opponent who was also defeated in their most recent outing. Also stating he'll need to do test cuts, chances are good he'll be meeting the loser of a fight that has not yet happened, which would give him time to make 185 pounds.

Most talented when standing, Te Huna will likely be matched up with a fellow striker to draw attention to his debut in the middleweight class. The losers of UFC Fight Night 35 bouts between Luke Rockhold and Costas Philippou, as well as Lorenz Larkin and Brad Tavares, are probably the most likely candidates to welcome Te Huna to his new division.

With scary knockout power at light heavyweight, Te Huna will be a dangerous fighter for any 185-pounder to trade with.