After painfully dropping his first two UFC bouts back to back via split decision, ‘Stormin’ Norman’ Parke got himself back into the win column with hard working performance against the returning Reza Madadi in Dublin back in October.
One of the first UFC events that banned the use of IVs, Parke kept his weight lower than usual to combat any trouble with the new refueling sanctions. Noting the difference in weight during the fight, ahead of his clash with Rustam Khabilov in London this weekend, Parke has walked around heavier during his preparations.
“I’m just a little bit heavier, but I was very light in the last fight against Madadi,” he explained. “I only put on 10 or 11 lbs after the weigh in last time. That was crazy. I decided I’d stay a little heavier and just cut the way I used to. I’m hoping to be hitting the Octagon at about 175 lbs.
“I felt a bit light in Dublin and not as strong as I usually am. I was being pushed around a little easier than usual. Even when I was warming up I was feeling like something wasn’t quite right. I had to adapt, go in there, and just do what I had to do.”
Parke is no stranger to strong opposition having previously faced one of the biggest fighters in the bracket, a man famed for his monstrous weight cuts, Gleison Tibau.
Losing out on a close split decision against Tibau to end an unbeaten run of five bouts, Parke lost a significant amount of momentum at the hands of the Brazilian. Earlier this month, it was revealed that Tibau tested positive for erythropoietin and because of that, he had his first round submission win over Abel Trujillo overturned to a loss.
The news of the lightweight veteran’s positive PED test did not come as a shock to the TUF: Smashes winner:
“It’s every man for himself in this game, some people are (using PEDs) and some people aren’t. Just to look at Tibau’s body type, the muscle definition is just unnatural. He was so thick when I fought him.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
“Both of us are grinders. Strength never really played a big part in our fight, but I remember when I clinched up with him it was like a strength I have never felt before. It felt like my coach Rodney’s strength—and he fought at middleweight. For a lightweight, again, that’s pretty unnatural.
“What annoys me is the fact that the fight really came down to me throwing a sloppy kick and him hitting a knee tap (takedown). During scrambles like that, he was very strong and heavy and I’m talking late into the fight, but I guess he was probably five or six kilos heavier than me at the time.
“I don’t really worry about the past, but you’re asking me, so yeah, he probably was on something. I was reading up on it and they were saying that he was taking EPO or something, but I’m sure if they tested him a bit more regularly they would find more than EPO in his system.
“To be honest, I’ve fought guys who’ve been on juice before. I’d never take his skill set away from him. He’s a legit fighter. He’s definitely top 20 material, but he’s been caught now. The way I see it if he’s done it once he’s probably done it his whole life. He’s a cheat, simple as that.”
After his wish for a striking battle with Madadi wasn’t granted, Parke is hoping that Khabilov will exchange leather with him on Saturday night in London’s 02 Arena. Despite the Russian’s wrestling background, Parke believes losses in his two last outings may force him to his feet.
He said: “I want this to be a striking battle. I’m going to go out there and stand. I was told I would get that kind of fight last time with Madadi, but that never happened. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready for wherever the fight goes, but Madadi told me he would stand and strike and he didn’t do that. He tried to take me down the whole time.
“I’ve got a funny feeling that, with this guy and the situation he’s in, he’s going to come in and get desperate against me. He’s going to try to push the pace and that will leave something open for me.
“This guy doesn’t like being on his back either. I’ve seen him down there and he was looking very desperate. Adriano Martins used his aggression against him when they fought, and when Khaboliv ended up on half-guard bottom he did not like it. He was basically trying to bench press him to get him off him. I look at them battles and I know they can be won.”
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