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Ed Ruth excited about move to crowded Bellator welterweight division

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Ed Ruth
Bellator MMA

Competing at 185 pounds, three-time NCAA wrestling champion Ed Ruth looked like a surefire future middleweight title challenger.

So why is he dropping down to 170?

Ruth recently announced his plans to join Bellator’s welterweight division, a roster that rivals that of the UFC with the likes of current titleholder Rory MacDonald, Douglas Lima, Andrey Koreshkov, Paul Daley, and Lorenz Larkin among its ranks. The path to MacDonald is rife with hazards, which is just how Ruth wants it.

“I always wanted to be where the best fighters were and I feel like that’s the best route for me, just because of the way that I like to compete,” Ruth told MMA Fighting. “I don’t want to keep going out there and fighting against people where they’re like, ‘Of course he will win that fight.’ I’d rather go out there in a situation where people didn’t expect me to win and then I win it and then they’re like, ‘Wow, I never thought of him like that.’

“And that’s how you prove to people that you’re changing. You’re a different fighter, you’re a different person, you’re different all around. They’ll see that when they see that you’re actually taking jumps to step up in your competition rather than just trying to be comfortable with everything.”

Undefeated in four pro bouts so far, Ruth was on his way to becoming a contender in Bellator’s relatively thin middleweight division. Now he finds himself at the bottom of a new ladder, one that could be considerably more difficult to climb.

The Jan. 20 championship bout between MacDonald and Lima was a grueling five-round affair that proved that both fighters were among the 170-pound elite, possibly even at the very top given their resumes. “The Red King” holds a one-sided unanimous decision win over current UFC champion Tyron Woodley from four years ago, while Lima has outpointed ex-UFC fighters Daley and Larkin.

Ruth watched the MacDonald-Lima duel and he is already visualizing how he would fare against Bellator’s best.

“I did see that fight and I definitely see myself fighting one of them in the near future,” said Ruth. “I want to fight them as soon as possible. I’m not getting any younger, if anything I’m just improving slowly but surely, and whenever I get a chance, whenever I get the opportunity I’m going all for it. I want to fight these guys. These are the guys I’m looking to fight. I’m not looking for them to leave. I want them to be there when I’m there.”

Though he’s a rising star in Bellator, the UFC letters matter to Ruth. In his most recent fight at Bellator 186, which took place on the campus of his alma mater Penn State University, he picked up a second-round KO of Chris Dempsey, an opponent with Octagon experience.

Ruth said he wants Bellator to keep bringing him opponents with similar pedigrees, which is one reason why the loaded welterweight roster caught his eye. Another reason is because he realized his frame was better suited for 170 pounds, so the change in weight classes is expected to be free of any major drama.

“(My team) kind of just let me do my own thing as far as training-wise, how much I wanted to train, and I monitor my weight a lot,” said Ruth. “Every day right before I go to sleep I always check my weight and I send it to them as well. I sent it to (manager) Bob (Cook) one day, I was like, ‘Look, I’m at like 182, 183,” and he was like, ‘You know what? You can go down to 170.’ They kept saying that and I’m like, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s just go down to 170, it feels like that’s the better way to go. Let’s do that.’

“We kept rolling with it and my weight stayed where it’s at and now it’s the perfect fit.”

Next up for Ruth is a bout with Ion Pascu at Bellator 196 on Friday in Budapest, Hungary. Ruth’s official welterweight debut has been put on hold as the bout will be contested at a catchweight of 175 pounds after originally scheduled opponent Laszlo Furko bowed out with an injury.

Once he settles into his new division, Ruth is ready to fight whoever Bellator puts in his way en route to a title shot.

“I haven’t really thought about it, but if there’s a Paul Daley in there or if there’s Lima in there, it just depends on who’s coming down the pipeline,” said Ruth. “If I have to see those guys first, I’ll see them first.”