Tom Breese wants to make the kind of statement that ripples throughout the entire middleweight division in his second outing at 185 pounds when he meets Ian Heinisch at UFC London.
In his early UFC tenure, fans and media marveled at how the towering Birmingham native cut down to the welterweight limit. After three wins at welterweight, Breese picked up his first career loss to Sean Strickland, which prompted him to rethink his future in the bracket.
He reemerged at 185 pounds after nearly two years on the sidelines to bank an emphatic first-round win over the notoriously durable Aussie, Dan Kelly, at UFC Liverpool. Having gone through the entire fight camp and contest at a canter, Breese was left wondering why he had waited so long to move up a weight class.
“I was fighting at welterweight from a very young age, the cuts got tougher and I just decided to fight healthy,” Breese told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast. “It’s crazy the amount of benefits that I feel from it. I don’t even have to cut any weight to be honest. My weight comes down very well and I’m full of calories. I feel so much stronger.”
As he warmed up backstage at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, Breese could already feel the difference in his body compared to his previous outings as a welterweight.
“Even before the fight, when I was warming up, you always have a bit of nerves when you’re warming up that make you feel sluggish, but I just felt so sharp warming up. I felt like I could’ve warmed up all day, if that makes sense,” Breese said. “I didn’t have that tiredness and that gaunt kind of feeling in my stomach.”
The English middleweight conceded that his long, lean frame allows him to forego weight cuts in an easier fashion than different body types. That being said, in hindsight, he can’t really understand why he put his body through the rigmarole of a 30-pound weight cut up until making the move to the heavier bracket.
“It depends on what kind of body type you are. If you’re a shorter, stockier kind of guy, maybe you carry a little more fat and you carry a bit more water, so you definitely can fight at a lower weight class. For someone like me, I’m always very lean, so for me to go and lose 14 or 15 kilos [30-33 pounds] is [crazy],” he explained.
“I walk around at about 90 kilos [198 pounds] so it drops down a little bit. In the middle of camp I’m around 88 kilos [194 pounds]. I’m very low body fat at that stage because I’m a very tall guy. For me to lose four more kilos [nine pounds] to get to middleweight, it’s very easy with the training, it just comes naturally.
“Compare that to draining my body down to 77 kilos [170 pounds]. It was ridiculous what I was doing.”
Fighters like Joanne Calderwood have previously discussed how they felt a need to add muscle to their bodies after moving up a division, but Breese wouldn’t want to add extra pounds as it could push him back toward a weight-cutting situation.
“I didn’t worry about that because I feel like I’m a good athlete,” he said. “I feel like I am very strong, and for me it’s about being more athletic and being that cardio machine at this weight. I’ll out-cardio anyone at this weight and I know that in my head now, especially because I’m not draining my body. I don’t want put more muscle on because then I’ll have to go back to cutting. I just want to be the best athlete I can be, stick around my fighting weight and focus on being a cardio machine rather than trying to out-muscle people, because if you’ve got good technique, you’re going to be efficient anyway.”
Breese is putting a great emphasis on how he performs in the English capital, claiming that that an exciting showing is even more important than getting another victory.
“It’s more about how I perform and how I win these fights now,” Breese said. “It’s not just about beating people, I want to be an exciting fighter as well. It’s about how I win more than getting the win. I want to be exciting and I think that will open more doors than actually beating him would.”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Tom Breese interview begins at 42:00.