UFC Fight Night 44, headlined by 145lb bulldozers Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens, takes place this Saturday in San Antonio, and will likely go a long way to determining the next challenger to the featherweight title after the long-awaited rematch between champ' Jose Aldo and challenger Chad Mendes.
Another matchup in the featherweight division that has landed on the main card is between number three ranked Ricardo Lamas, the most recent man to challenge Aldo for his title, and one of Aldo's Nova Uniao training partners, unranked Hacran Dias.
Despite the drop from challenging for the divisions highest accolade to fighting an unranked fighter, Lamas (13-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) told Bloody Elbow he isn't looking past Dias (22-2-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) as a threat.
"Preparation is going great. He's a tough guy, I'm not taking him lightly" Lamas said. "He's very strong. and likes to control people on top and grind them out. I'm 100% concentrated on Hacran Dias right now and not thinking about anyone else. "
Lamas seemed well aware that the one-sided nature of his bout with Jose Aldo has left him far off a title shot, but was quick to say he still sees his future at 145lbs.
"I feel great at 145. I usually start camp at about 175 (pounds). Over two months I'll drop weight gradually and usually enter fight week at about 156. After weigh ins I'll get back up to 155-160".
Like Mark Hominick, Lamas was able to push the pace and lay his hands on Aldo in the fifth and final round. But similarly to Chan-Sung Jung he found himself a little in awe of the situation, and was too tentative in the early rounds. It's an issue Lamas says won't be a factor going forward.
"I just didn't fight like myself" said Lamas. "With a title riding on the line I didn't want to make too many mistakes and I was too conservative. I learned a lot from that fight and won't ever fight like that again."
Speaking of how Aldo's performance affected him in the fight, Lamas wasn't too in awe of the man in front of him.
"I was too tentative and you can't beat Aldo like that." said Lamas "Nothing he threw at me hurt me".
One person who was very vocal about Lamas' performance against Aldo was Conor McGregor, who admittedly is never lost for words. Speaking to MMAFighting.com back in March McGregor said:
"When he got the fight against Aldo he fought like he was happy he got the chance. He didn't fight to win. He fought to compete."
Lamas, a no-nonsense guy, is unimpressed with McGregor and paying him no mind.
"I don't pay attention to that guy. That's exactly what he wants. He's just a loud mouth, and very unoriginal. I have been eating, sleeping and breathing Hacran Dias since the day I signed the contract. He's in my sights now. Everyone else will have to wait."
Although Lamas is focused on his fight this Saturday, as you'd expect, he has one eye on the upcoming Aldo-Mendes bout at UFC 176, August 2nd.
"I think it'll be a very good fight" Lamas said. "Mendes is very dangerous and athletic, and if he learned from the first fight (Mendes was knocked out in the 1st round back at UFC 142) I think he can cause a lot of problems for Aldo."
Despite having an interest in immediate future of his divisions champion, Lamas reiterated he wasn't expecting, or looking, for a title shot any time soon.
"Right now I'm not thinking about another title shot. It is my main goal but I just want to take it fight by fight."