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Lorenz Larkin a free agent after UFC 202, frustrated with lack of UFC push

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS -- The stakes will be high for Lorenzo Larkin when he meets Neil Magny in a pivotal welterweight contest at UFC 202.

Not only is Magny the highest-ranked opponent Larkin has faced in the Octagon, but the fight will also be the last fight of Larkin's current UFC deal. And of late, the 28-year-old Riverside native has not been shy about voicing his frustration over what he perceives as a lack of push from the promotion, especially considering his reputation as one of the most exciting strikers in the 170-pound division and proclivity for stepping up on short notice.

"I've been thinking about it for a while," Larkin said. "I don't know, it's just, everybody has their own outlooks on things. My outlook is just, I'm not getting pushed how I feel like I should be. It is what it is, but as long as I have all of the people who follow me, who really know who I am, those are my diehards and those are the ones that it really boils down to."

While his early UFC career was plagued by bad luck and close losses, Larkin has looked much more like the blue-chip prospect that defeated Robbie Lawler in Strikeforce since dropping down to welterweight. The 170-pound division is a natural fit for Larkin's slighter frame, and Larkin is one judge's scorecard away from being a perfect 4-0 at his new weight class, with two of those victories coming via brutal, bonus-winning knockouts of John Howard and Santiago Ponzinibbio.

Larkin punctuated his current run with a win over Jorge Masvidal in May, yet now he finds himself fighting the final bout of his contract on the UFC Fight Pass prelims. And while he has been vocal with his annoyance over the situation, Larkin also isn't sure what else he could do to change it.

"It goes to a certain extent man," Larkin said. "I can only say so much, but after that it's just like, well if you don't give a sh*t, I don't give a sh*t. I just, all the notoriety I've ever received is off of me. It's off of me pushing me as a brand, and me marketing myself. So it's up to them. If they want to, then that's what it's going to be. But if not, then I'm okay with it. I'm not going to beg anybody."

Larkin isn't the only notable name on UFC 202 who has elected to fight out the length of his contract, as fellow UFC welterweight Donald Cerrone is also going to be a free agent after the Aug. 20 pay-per-view. And while Cerrone has indicated that he intends to re-sign with the UFC, the trend towards fighters testing the open market is one that continues to spread, with top contenders like Rory MacDonald and Benson Henderson betting on themselves in free agency.

Larkin declined to elaborate further on his situation, though he did point towards the short window for earning potential allotted to fighters in MMA as the main reason he won't begrudge UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley for his pursuit of a big payday now that Woodley finally has leverage as a titleholder.

"At the end of the day you have to realize that, as a fighter, you only have a little bit of time to do what you're supposed to do in this game," Larkin said. "You want to make as much money as can. And that's what it's all about. So I can't say anything about Woodley. He's put his time in game, and he's earned his way to the top, and he can ask for what fight he wants to. He's the damn champion."

Larkin knows he is still several fights away from the position of leverage that a fighter like Woodley or MacDonald has, however a win over Magny would also likely vault him into the top-10 of the UFC welterweight rankings. So while Larkin was noncommittal when asked if he planned to test the open market after UFC 202, he acknowledged that a victory could put him in a pretty nice spot.

"I guess we'll see," Larkin said. "We'll see. We'll see how everything plays out. Only time will tell."