Explosive bantamweight hungry to build off impressive debut
Two years ago, Mike Easton went on hiatus.
Now that he’s back, the 27-year-old finds himself as one of the UFC’s most promising bantamweight prospects after his impressive debut earlier this month. Time away from the sport left the explosive fighter eager to thunder back onto the mixed martial arts scene, and he did just that at UFC on Versus 6, victimizing fellow UFC newcomer Byron Bloodworth.
After having his hand raised for the first time in a long time, Easton prepares for further conquests in what is arguably the promotion’s most entertaining and dynamic division, focusing on who he has to beat next.
While sitting on the sidelines for nearly two years was a difficult stretch to endure, Easton knows that taking the time to rest and recuperate from a long-standing elbow injury was exactly what he needed to ensure that his first trip into the Octagon wasn’t also his last.
“(The hiatus) gave me a chance to heal up all my injuries and also to sit back and study how the 135’ers fight in the UFC, because fighting in one organization then going to the UFC is so much different,” said Easton.
“The 135 pound (division) in the UFC is stacked, man. I believe this is the best division in the UFC. I feel the 135er’s, I feel as though we are the best.”
Which division has the most talent in the UFC is always going to be a topic of debate in the sport’s circles, but the claim made by Easton is far from outlandish: the UFC bantamweights deliver just about every time they step in the cage, which is something the majority of divisions can only dream of proclaiming.
Still, Easton feels that the 135-pound fighters don’t garner enough attention or receive the same respect other divisions do, believing that many of the sport’s followers seem to be partial to the heavier weight classes.
But that problem should be temporary.
The division just needs some time to display, through talent and entertainment, that they deserve their props. According to Easton, that respect will be earned shortly.
“We get respect, but sometimes bantamweights, because we are the smaller fighters, we don’t get as much respect as the bigger guys. But they’re about to find out real soon that 135 pounds is the division. It’s definitely one of the best divisions in the UFC, and a lot of people are going to find that out really, really soon.”
A confident Easton is sure the bantamweight division’s time is fast approaching, sure in his belief that the class is the most elite in the promotion, and possesses the most depth in terms of talent.
With all the technique and talent on display in the bantamweight ranks, one of the knocks on the division — and lighter weight fighters in general — is a lack of power. Fair or not, that’s how many fans see things, but Easton plans on changing that perception one fight at a time.
Appropriately nicknamed “The Hulk,” Easton showed off his power in his debut, crumbling Bloodworth with a series of devastating knees before a series of unanswered strikes on the ground ended the bout.
“The thing that’s lacking in the 135-pound division that I bring is power as far as punching and kicks,” said Easton. “I feel as though I’m the hardest hitter in the 135-pound division, period.
“I’m the hardest kicker, I’m the hardest puncher. I have good striking, I have good stand up. I’m hard to take down, and (I have) my background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. That’s something tough to deal with. I just walk into the cage with that confidence.
“That’s what I want to bring to the division. I want to bring the knockouts. You know, that power punching. I think that’s what is missing in the division. I’m the guy that has it and I can definitely show it.”
Confident in ability and incredibly well-rounded, Easton, one could say, has got it all and he has no plans on being stopped on his trek towards the bantamweight belt.
He knows there is a long journey ahead of him, and Easton is ready to put in the work, focused on fulfilling the championship dreams he’s held onto for the last ten years.
But his fighting career and championship ambitions are not the most important aspects of his life. For Easton, family comes first, and a career in the UFC is the best way for the 12-fight veteran to provide for those dearest to him.
“It’s a blessing,” Easton asserted. “It’s a blessing to be able to have the opportunity. Right now, I have another means of feeding my family. That’s what is most important to me; make sure all their needs are met.
“I know if I continue to do my job, take care of my family, and keep fighting hard, everything’s going to be okay for their future. That’s what I’m fighting for, their future.”