Heavyweight Rab ‘Baloo’ Truesdale has agreed to drop down a weight division to light-heavyweight to fight Neil Laird, who usually competes a further two weight classes down at welterweight.
After a series of back and forward insults were traded between the two on an online MMA forum, Laird offered to settle the score in the cage and got Truesdale to agree, after suggesting the bout take place at light heavyweight.
The physically mismatched duo will square off at On Top 4 on Saturday, February 25, at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow.
It is the first fight officially announced for the event where a number of On Top Promotion’s titles are also expected to be on the line.
Truesdale will have to cut around 22lbs to make the light heavyweight limit of 205lbs, while Laird, who walks around at about 200lbs, will have the unusual pleasure of not cutting any weight ahead of the clash.
While a fight that some may view as something of a freak show will likely not feature at the top end of the card, it will certainly be one of the event’s most anticipated match-ups from the audience’s point of view.
Truesdale, who has a pro record of 3-1-1, lost his last fight against Dayman Lake at CageWarriors 44.
Meanwhile, Laird, who holds a professional record of 2-2, lost his last outing against Ryan Yanz in Australia.
On Top Promotions’ owner Thomas Collins said: “Rab and Neil have been sniping at each other for a while on the CageWarriors forum and they agreed to fight at light heavyweight, so I jumped at the opportunity to put the fight on.
“The whole Scottish MMA community has been watching their arguments on the forum so I’m sure it will be a fight a lot of people will want to see.
“Neil tells me he is walking around at a weight not too far off the light heavyweight limit so it won’t be a problem for him.
“Rab has been talking about moving down to light-heavyweight anyway, so this is the perfect opportunity for him to do so.
“Truesdale always excites the crowd when he fights and Laird is a well-rounded mixed martial artist, so I’m sure it will be a good contest. Whenever there’s bad blood between the fighters, there is usually fireworks in the cage.”
Truesdale has history when it comes to fighting lighter opponents.
He beat Joe Nugent by first round TKO in Alloa in August. Nugent, usually a welterweight, stepped up at short notice to compete at heavyweight but was overwhelmed by the bigger Truesdale.
Truesdale, a member of Alloa-based fight team Hostile Territory, said: “Laird has got a big mouth and I look forward to shutting it for him.
“It’s all well and good going on the internet and playing the big man, but when we get in the cage it will be very different.
“I wouldn’t be too surprised if he pulls out of the fight closer to the time, when he realises what a mistake he’s made.
“The fight is a full 24-hours after the weigh-ins, by which time I’ll be absolutely massive compared to him. I’ll be at least 18lbs heavier than him and I’ll use that to my advantage like I did against Nugent.”
Laird, who fights out of Lycans MMA in Kilmarnock, said he believes that the weight difference is the only area in which Truesdale will have an advantage.
The 20-year-old said: “I’m taller than him and have a longer range.
“I also know I’ll be much faster than him so, other than the weight, I don’t see any area where he’ll have an advantage.
“I usually cut down to welterweight from about 200lbs anyway so this won’t be a problem for me.
“He’ll have to cut a lot of weight to make light heavyweight. By the time the fight comes round he will have put a lot of that weight back on by rehydrating, but I think I’ll be in the better physical condition.
“I’ve seen him fight and he seems to allow himself to get beaten up until his opponent tires, then starts to fight back.
“If he does that against me, it’ll be a mistake.”
For the latest news on the On Top 4 fight card, visit www.ontoppromotions.co.uk