James Mulheron has a renewed sense of purpose ahead of his return to MMA at Bellator Newcastle on Saturday.
Mulheron is set to face London Shootfighters product Arunas Andriuskevicus of Lithuania in Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena.
We last saw a heavyweight Mulheron competing in the cage against American spoiler Justin Willis, dropping a decision on his UFC debut.
Unfortunately for “The Juggernaut,” a positive out-of-competition drug test in the USA means that would be his first and last fight in the UFC for now.
Protesting his innocence, it’s been an ordeal which has seen Mulheron sat out from competition for over a year. But Mulheron is an optimist and is only focusing on the future.
“It was a bit short-lived wasn’t it? One fight. You can’t really call it a run, can you?” Mulheron said of his time in the UFC.
“With the ban and everything which took place… I could sit here and try and get you to believe us, but when you get to that point [in your career], why would I do anything to jeopardise my career like that?
“I had been drug tested before, five or six times, everything was fine. I get drug tested in America and something shows up. I don’t know… It could have been something minuscule from a supplement. I have no idea where it came from. Hand on my heart. That just put a downer on what it was, but life goes on and I’m not going to dwell on it.”
There is good reason for Mulheron’s unwillingness to dwell on the past. Landing on his feet, so to say, fighting for Bellator, Mulheron also happens to have a baby on the way.
Not only has the prospect of becoming a father renewed his desire to compete in the cage, it also helped him on his way to dropping down to light heavyweight.
“My missus is pregnant and I want to be a DILF. I wanna be a Dad you’d like to f**k,” said a laughing Mulheron.
“I don’t want to be a big chunky guy. I want to have a blast at light heavyweight just to say I can do it. I’ve been lazy all these years. It might suit me well in the long run, where I’m fighting regular-sized people.
“I might even cut down weight again if it keeps falling off. I’ve got the frame of a welterweight, really. I was just carrying a lot of fat. Everyone says to me ‘You’re a big lad,” and all that. But really, I was just being lazy at heavyweight.”
Dropping weight classes can be a daunting task for fighters, but Mulheron has relished this training camp and seeing the weight fall off him.
“Overall, it’s been really enjoyable and different,” said Mulheron of his new approach to training and dieting.
“Before, I would just eat kebabs and live like a pig. It’s actually really nice to be conscious of what I eat. As a heavyweight, I’d have a full meal and then think ‘Oh go on, I’ll eat that now as well.’ Now I’m being a lot more careful and I’m enjoying it. It’s been good for me.
“This diet is totally new for me. As I said, I used to eat kebabs constantly, but I would keep my diet clean-ish when in camp and fighting at heavyweight. For me, it’s more about the amount [of food]. At heavyweight, I’d eat around 5,000 calories a day, whereas now I’m having around 3,500. It’s the same kind of food as before, but it’s normal human-size portions for me now.”
As Mulheron sheds the pounds to make the 205 weight limit, he’s excited about being in a talented light heavyweight division, namechecking the likes of Ryan Bader and Liam McGeary. Though, he’s already thinking of a run at middleweight in the near future.
But that is not to say he is looking beyond his upcoming opponent Andriuskevicus. Far from it.
“I’m fighting a kid with good experience, a tough guy. It’s good to have to have two seasoned pro’s fighting each other,” Mulheron began.
“He’s got a bit of an aura, doesn’t he? Good stand-up, good grappling. He seems dangerous, 14-4… six-fight winning streak. Anyone at this level is dangerous and all fighters at this weight have knockout power. I’ve got a lot of respect for him, he comes from a good team with some good fighters down there.”
Beyond Andriuskevicus and no matter the weight class, Mulheron is focused on his career as a Bellator fighter to provide for his fledgling family and will be taking each day in the sport as it comes.
“All I’m thinking about is me, my family and that’s it. Fighting is just a way to help me lead a life I want to live.
“Whatever happens in fighting, if I couldn’t fight from tomorrow, then that’s it. I’m not thinking like ‘I need to do this’ or ‘I need to fight in the UFC’ or ‘I need to become a Bellator champion.’ I haven’t got a massive goal in my head. I’d love to string a few wins together, knock a few people out in Bellator, maybe drop weight and just see how things unfold.”