Strikeforce's Lorenz Larkin will move down a division to compete as a middleweight.
Larkin's manager Arnold DeWitt told MMA Fighting on Thursday that the decision has been made by Larkin's team and approved by Strikeforce officials.
"Eventually we were looking at 185, but we wanted to test the waters at 205 first," DeWitt said. "He came into Strikeforce at 205 and we got a chance to see how things played out. If he had beat 'King' Mo [Lawal], there would have been no point talking about it. But we think Lorenz is going to be a monster at 185, and there are a lot of fighters there who should be concerned."
The 25-year-old Larkin had won his first 12 pro fights, including a 3-0 start in Strikeforce before running into Lawal at the promotion's January 7 event. In that fight, the former light-heavyweight champion Lawal controlled the action with takedowns and eventually finished Larkin via second-round TKO due to ground strikes.
Afterward, however, the Nevada state athletic commission revealed that Lawal had failed a drug screening, testing positive for the steroid Drostanalone. Since then, Lawal has said he would not appeal the positive result, making it a lock that the fight's outcome will be changed to a no contest.
Still, Larkin learned enough from the bout to decide that a downward move to 185 would be the best course for his career.
"Even with the fact that we got the fight on four weeks' notice and with the positive steroid test, Lorenz never came out and made excuses," DeWitt said. "The thing was, at the end of the day, this is simply the best move, the right move. Lorenz feels comfortable doing it. He's the one who has to cut weight and get in the cage. So it came down to his comfort level with it."
In order to help the transition, DeWitt says the 5-foot-11 Larkin is aiming to lower his walk-around weight from about 220-225 pounds to 200-205. The creative striker who has won eight of his fight by way of knockout hopes to be back in the cage in his new division as early as April.
"At 205, he had a great speed advantage, but at 185, we think he's going to have huge power to go with his speed," DeWitt said. "You have to understand, he was knocking out 250-pounders in amateurs with either hand. Now that he's coming down to a smaller weight class, that's not going to abandon him. His power and speed aren't going to go away."