Niklas Stolze knows his job is on the line at UFC Vegas 56 this Saturday, but plans on earning his spot.
“Green Mask” returns for his third fight in the UFC on June 4. Some massive changes have happened since his last outing.
Firstly, he has dropped down to lightweight, something he has only done once in his 17-fight career. It was a decision he made after going through some tests at the UFC P.I. He feels like he can really make an impact in that weight class.
“So, for my last fight, I came in at fight week like five to four pounds over the welterweight limit, and I still felt in super great shape. Then we found out I’m way too light for welterweight,” Stolze told Cageside Press in an exclusive interview. “So I was like, maybe I should go out to the UFC P.I. and speak to the nutrition team. And that’s what I did right here on the first of February; I spoke to the nutrition team and asked them what they thought about it. I just wanted to have like a professional guy who say like, ‘okay, maybe we have to look into your body frame.’ We did the composition tests and everything, and they said, let’s try to do a test cut. We did a test cut, and it went perfectly, and now I’m a lightweight.”
While Stolze might feel like he was light for the welterweight division, he is still a big guy, and the cut down to lightweight has been a different process.
“I would say it keeps me more focused now. At welterweight, I had a lot of hard sessions until my fight-like, I was still training and fighting very hard because I could do it. I still had high calories and everything, and I got the weight fairly easy down,” Stolze said. “So, it was like, okay, this time, I started with a lower-calorie diet like three to four weeks out of the fight, which makes training the last three weeks a little bit harder because you’re waking up more sore, more tired because your body is not like recovering that good. It all comes from your experience… like where you have to listen to your body, where you have to pay more attention. More rest and everything.”
The other big change is that the German fighter did his entire training camp out in Las Vegas at Syndicate MMA. He promised to do a camp out there after Syndicate head coach John Wood stepped in on short notice to corner Stolze in his last fight. Stolze’s two cornermen tested positive for COVID-19 last October, and he was left with a single corner, so he called Wood.
Stolze wouldn’t get to use Wood, however, because he was knocked out in a minute and 8 seconds.
The German fighter knows his upcoming fight against Benoit Saint-Denis is critical for his career as he is most likely fighting for his job. But with his back against the wall, Stolze believes he will show up and prove he deserves a new contract after he defeats his opponent.
“Yes, this fight is for my job. I’m 0-2 and have my back against the wall,” Stolze said. “But I have to say, my whole career, my back was against the wall, and I never got the support I really deserved, even from my country and from my people. But yeah, I’m still here, and I I have like really, really good fights in my repertoire. I always have had good fights. I had such a good fight against [Ramazan] Emeev, but no one’s talking about it, so I’m like okay, but people looking into the fight, their like ‘okay, this kid got something’ so I just need to prove it now. I will prove it, and I know UFC will come up and say here’s the new contract after this fight.”
Watch the rest of our interview with Niklas Stolze above. Stolze vs. Saint-Denis goes down June 4 on ESPN +.