Even if an athlete does well in a division or conference, there comes a time when that athlete will want to make some sort of change. In the event of team sports, they may wish to take their talents to a different roster. In the case of combat sports, meanwhile, it is common to see a man put a winning streak together in one weight class, yet still decide to drop down in weight.

“The Kansas City Bandit” Jason High has spent almost all of his career as a welterweight. Sure, he experienced tough outs in his career, including losses to Charlie Brenneman and Erick Silva, but considering his success in previous bouts for Strikeforce and Dream, he just had himself a few rough nights, right? After all, losses happen in the sport. High was still facing the toughest guys in his natural weight class. In his most recent bouts with James Head and Anthony Lapsley, High looked as good as any welterweight in the UFC’s shark-infested welterweight division. The truth of the matter, however, was that High had something in mind before he even got the call for Lapsley, and his plans initially did not involve a welterweight.

High (top) drops an elbow (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

High (top) drops an elbow (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

“I was kind of on the way down there when I got the call for that fight,” High explained to The MMA Corner. “And then the next one after that, I was planning on doing it, but they just kept calling me and giving me fights for 170 [pounds], and I was wanting to stay busy, so I just kept taking them. But I was bringing my weight down and getting down there anyway. I planned on doing it last year.”

High started considering the move sometime after his first-round loss to Silva, and then toyed with the thought again after the first-round submission win over Head.

“I kind of kicked it around before the James Head fight,” High revealed. “But it wasn’t serious. After the James Head fight, I really started bringing my weight down.

“Then I got the call for another fight at 170, so I took it.”

Ultimately, though, why did High opt to make the drop to lightweight for a showdown with lightweight contender Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 42, which emanates live this Saturday from Albuquerque, N.M.? Consider the physical frame and height of the 5-foot-9 High against guys like the 6-foot-2 Head or the 5-foot-11 Silva, and you’ll find the answer to that question.

“I think it’s more about fighting guys with my size, frame-wise,” High admitted. “I’m a welterweight as far as height and reach—not reach so much, but definitely height. I’m shorter than a lot of the guys, so it’s definitely more about fighting guys my height and frame size.”

Dos Anjos will give up an inch of height to High, but he pushes a good pace, implements a good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game and good stand-up, and brings as strong of a wrestling game as almost any man in the lightweight ranks. With two well-rounded guys displaying their talents and looking to ascend to the top of one of the UFC’s most loaded divisions, the bout promises to turn in a fun affair, especially if this one stays standing.

High (bottom) attempts a guillotine (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

High (bottom) attempts a guillotine (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

“He throws good leg kicks, and he throws a lot of leg kicks. He uses a good jab, and he’s just a tough guy,” High said of his opponent. “He’s pretty good everywhere. He likes to clinch, for sure. I think he’s with Kings [MMA] now. He’s got wins over some tough guys—Donald Cerrone obviously, Mark Bocek, Evan Dunham—these are tough guys, man. But, I bring different problems than those guys, and I think I match up well with them.”

Among the problems dos Anjos will face? Well, there’s High’s grappling game. When he takes a guy down or even knocks them down, he pounces and hunts for any sort of submission. The brunt of High’s professional wins, in fact, come as a result of some form of a choke, and he stands a good chance of looking for another choke on Saturday evening in New Mexico. With a loaded division ahead of him, High understands that he can find himself against a top guy at any given time. As such, he plans on serving notice to the entire weight class, starting with an impressive outing against dos Anjos.

“It’s one of those divisions where anybody in the top 10, you could be like, ‘I could see him knocking out any of those other guys.’ So, I’m just hoping to get in that mix and start working my way towards the belt, really, and I want to be a champion. Keep your eye out for me. I’m a new guy at this weight class, but I plan on making a splash and turning some heads, for sure.”

Jason would like to thank American Top Team, American Top Team HD in Kansas City, his training partners and everyone who helped him grind for this fight. Follow High on Twitter: @KCBanditMMA

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.