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Tim Elliott targets bantamweight after quitting in sauna for title fight against Demetrious Johnson
LAS VEGAS – The notable size difference between Tim Elliott and champ Demetrious Johnson came at a price for the title challenger.
Elliott (13-7-1 MMA, 2-5 UFC) told MMAjunkie he quit in the sauna prior to the weigh-ins for Saturday’s The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale, he told MMAjunkie at the press conference for the FS1-televised main event at The Pearl at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
The winner of “TUF 24” obviously made weight, and went on to impress UFC fans with a gritty performance against Johnson (25-2-1 MMA, 13-1-1 UFC). He decidedly took the first round before losing later frames to the champ’s grinding wrestling attack.
But the whole experience was a major ordeal that left Elliott with a resolution to move up in weight.
“I’d like to go up to (135 pounds),” Elliott told MMAjunkie at the post-event presser. “The weight cut killed me. The morning of the weight cut I was hurting pretty bad. The first time I’ve ever told my coaches I was done.
“I told James Krause I wasn’t going back in the sauna. I told him I would give up the 20 percent; I didn’t care about the belt. He made me get back in there. He made me cut the weight, and I appreciate that he did that. But everything about this sport is fun for me. I do it because it’s fun. It doesn’t pay that well, so I feel like I could really compete at 135, when I feel good and I feel strong.”
The Johnson fight was Elliott’s seventh appearance in the octagon as a flyweight. Prior to beating four regional champs to earn a title shot, he also picked up a trio of wins in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed Titan FC promotion. So he was no stranger to 125 pounds.
But fighting against Johnson, the No. 1 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings and pound-for-pound list, Elliott said the effect of the hard cut was more pronounced.
“I was hurting after the first round,” he said. “Not my cardio, but my muscles. My stomach was cramping a little bit, and I know that’s from the weight cut.”
Despite his physical ailments, Elliott powered through and went the distance with Johnson.
Although his work seemed to guarantee another shot in the UFC, Elliott said he isn’t worried about what comes next. After being cut from the promotion in 2015, he’s learned to temper his expectations.
“(UFC President Dana White) told me I wasn’t going anywhere,” he said. “But you know, I got told that before. (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby told me after my John Dodson fight that if I fight like that, I’ll always have a job in the UFC. And then, a couple fights later, I was cut.
“But I don’t really care too much about that. If they don’t want me here, then I can get fired here, and I’ll go fight somewhere else. I’m going to fight no matter what. It doesn’t matter if it’s for the UFC or anywhere else, I’m going to go out on my shield and give it everything I’ve got.”
Although weighted with Elliott’s friends and family, the crowd at The Palms got certainly appreciated the effort he made against Johnson, cheering his name in the final round.
Even though Elliott lost a decision, he picked up a few new fans.
“I’m a fighter for the fans,” Elliott said. “I’m not wearing girl pants and talking trash. I want to get fans through fighting, not anything else. A lot of people (say) it’s not the fight game any more, it’s the entertainment game. But it’s not to me. I love to fight, I love fighting, and nothing makes me happier.”