Looking to leave a two-fight winless streak behind him, Manny Gamburyan will return to the UFC octagon on Sept. 27 in Las Vegas at UFC 178 in a new weight class.
Gamburyan is set to make his 135-pound men's bantamweight debut against Cody “The Renegade” Gibson at the MGM Grand Arena on a pay-per-view card headlined by the UFC light heavyweight title fight between champion Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier.
The bout was confirmed Friday afternoon by UFC officials.
“New start; new weight,” Gamburyan said. “Everything’s new. I’m so excited, I can’t wait.”
Gibson (12-4) is 1-1 in the UFC and coming off a technical-knockout win over Johnny Bedford on June 28.
“He’s a well-rounded fighter. He’s legit,” Gamburyan said. “But I guess it doesn’t matter who I fight. I have big plans in this division.”
Gamburyan (13-8, one no-contest) is coming off a featherweight decision loss to Nik Lentz on May 10 that followed a decision defeat against Denis Siver, which was later overturned to a no-contest when Siver tested positive for a banned substance. With a new lease on his career in a new weight class, though, Gamburyan has high hopes and big goals.
“I’m not just dropping this weight just to show I can make it, I have big plans,” Gamburyan said. “I’ve got a lot of plans for this weight class: big goals and big fights. I’m gonna go all the way.”
Gamburyan is a former “The Ultimate Fighter” lightweight finalist and later went on to challenge Jose Aldo for the WEC featherweight title. The September bout will mark the third weight class for Gamburyan, who trains at the Glendale Fighting Club and Team Hayastan, under the UFC banner. He began his UFC days in the lightweight (155 pounds) ranks before dropping to 145 pounds and the WEC, as the UFC didn't house the featherweight decision. When the UFC absorbed the WEC, Gamburyan returned to the octagon as a 145er, but will fight in a different weight class for the first time since a UFC lightweight loss in January of 2009. Overall, though, it will be Gamburyan’s fourth weight class, as he started his career fighting at welterweight (170 pounds).
“This is it, I can’t go down anymore,” Gamburyan laughed. “I promise you, I can’t make 125.”
Making the 135-pound class was a plan hatched in the moments following Gamburyan’s loss to Lentz. In the octagon, as could be made out on the television broadcast, Gamburyan was talking with ballyhooed nutritionist Mike Dolce, who has aided a laundry list of top UFC stars in their weight cuts, including Gamburyan’s teammate Ronda Rousey, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.
“He said, ‘Listen to me, please, let’s not fight big guys anymore, let’s go down to 135,’” Gamburyan said.
Gamburyan is confident he can make the cut, but knows it will be an arduous journey.
“Is it gonna be an easy cut? No. It’s gonna be 30 pounds,” Gamburyan said. “But I can make it.”
When Gamburyan initially dropped from 155 to 145, he found instant success, reeling off three straight victories en route to his title shot against Aldo in September of 2010. He’s hoping to find new life in his career once again at a weight he believes he should’ve ventured down to long ago.
“This is the weight class I should’ve been fighting at for a longtime,” Gamburyan said. “This is where I’m supposed to be. This is where I am.
“It’s a big card, it’s Jon Jones versus DC, it’s Las Vegas, so I couldn’t ask for more. I’m excited, I’m pumped.”