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Jorge Masvidal comfortable starting at the 'way, way bottom' of the welterweight division

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jorge Masvidal has won five of his seven fights in the UFC and spent a year ranked in the top 15 of his division. But as far as he's concerned, the slate has been wiped completely clean.

The former Strikeforce star is making the move up from lightweight to welterweight and fully expects to be put in the 170-pound cellar. Masvidal doesn't mind working his way up, though.

"I definitely gotta start out from the way, way bottom," he told MMAFighting.com. "I don't think I'm gonna get any type of leeway. And I'm happy as long as they're giving me the toughest fights possible. I don't want to fight any Ultimate Fighters like I always did at 155. No upcoming guys. I want to fight the guys that are world-class beaters. That's who I want to get in there with."

Masvidal (28-9) will first meet Cezar Ferreira, who is moving down from middleweight, at The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale on July 12 in Las Vegas. Ferreira will likely have a significant size advantage. Not that it matters much to Masvidal.

"I don't give a damn," Masvidal said. "As long as he makes the weight and he doesn't try to cheat out of the weight. I don't give a damn where he's coming from. I'm just going to get in his face and make him break."

Masvidal, 30, has been thinking about moving to 170 since after he lost a Strikeforce lightweight title against Gilbert Melendez in 2011. But after the UFC purchased Strikeforce, Masvidal figured there might be bigger fights at 155, so he stayed around.

That didn't quite work out. Even though Masvidal was ranked at lightweight for about a year, his only fight against a fellow ranked opponent was versus Al Iaquinta in April. Iaquinta ended up winning the bout by split decision, though many felt Masvidal should have gotten the nod from the judges.

"I kept telling myself that I was going to get a bigger, marquee fight if I fight at 155," Masvidal said. "And if I fought at 170 I wouldn't get the big-name fight that I would at 55. But I was wrong. It's not like I got it anyway."

After falling to Melendez four years ago, Masvidal was out for seven months. At that point, he didn't keep himself in peak condition and his weight cuts have not been the same since. The Miami native, who walks around at about 185, expects to be fresher and healthier at 170.

"It's always been real stressful on my body, whether I've got 12 weeks notice or not," Masvidal said. "I do a very strict diet. At a certain point I'm just a certain percent of body fat and I just don't get no load. Once I'm at 173 pounds, I'm 5 percent body fat. My energy is already a little bit low. I don't feel the same explosiveness."

Masvidal seems to have quite a bit in common with his American Top Team training partner Dustin Poirier, who just recently moved up from featherweight to lightweight. Poirier has looked phenomenal at 155, going 2-0 with two first-round knockouts.

"Dustin was cutting so much weight for featherweight," Masvidal said. "Being in training camps with him, he'd be on a strict diet and then at the fight he'd still have to cut 18, 19 pounds of water. A month before the fight he just wouldn't have the same speed as he would, the same strength and same energy out there. When he told me he was moving up, I was like, 'Hell yeah, man.' I fought with every body at 55 and I was telling him I don't think you're gonna have a problem at 155 strengthwise."

Maybe 170 isn't necessarily Masvidal's best fit, but 155 definitely isn't, either. He wishes there were more options -- another weight division or two in between 170 and 155, kind of like boxing.

"I think the sport is growing and along with it weight classes have to be added," Masdvidal said. "I think between 155 and 170 is most of the population of the world within that weight. I feel like if they added a few weight classes it wouldn't change up the dynamics of the sport. You can still have champions and it wouldn't be like boxing. Boxing got messed up, because they've got so many belts, so many unifications. It's crazy."

Masvidal won't have to deal with a crazy weight cut any longer. He acknowledges he might not be the biggest guy at welterweight, but he doesn't feel like he'll be giving much up to anyone, even someone like Johny Hendricks, who walks at upwards of 200 pounds.

"He's a midget," Masvidal said. "He's short. I'm not a big-boned person, but I won't be the shortest dude in the division. I won't be the tallest, either. But I can speak from experience that cutting the most weight doesn't make you the most dangerous guy. Look at Anthony Johnson. He went up two weight classes and he's a f*cking beast, man. He's just World Starrin' people up."