On Friday, April 3rd, Justin Rader will make his bantamweight MMA debut at Legacy Fighting Championships 41 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Currently, 3-0 with the organization, Rader is set to take on his most game competition in Ricardo Lucas Ramos, who holds a 6-0 record.
The move to bantamweight has been in the works since the beginning of his MMA career in January of 2014. Having competed with many of the current crop of MMA stars in the UFC and in other promotions at lightweight, Justin and his team determined that 135 lbs would be the best path to his ultimate goal, which is the UFC Octagon. He has been working diligently with his team, particularly strength and conditioning coach, Luke Tirey of Green Strength in Edmund, OK who helps guide his diet and keeps him energized during the process of moving towards 135 lbs in the cage.
“I have really been focused on cooking healthy. My sponsor, Brookover Company provides me with the highest quality meats, so that I can grill them,” said Rader. I also take a lot of advice from Tina Lovato (wife of Rafael Lovato, Jr.) who has been preparing meals for a high level athlete for many years.”
Along with the continued refinement of his stand up and Muay Thai skills with his coach Mark Beecher and his MMA Jiu Jitsu work with Professor Rafael Lovato, Jr., Justin also took advantage of an opportunity to start the camp for this fight with a week long stint at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento. There he was able to work with the likes of Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, Danny Castillo, Joseph Benavidez and current UFC Champion T.J. Dillashaw.
“One of my good friends is one of Team Alpha Males’ up and coming fighters, Chris Holdsworth. So Professor Rafael reached out and set up the week long experience where I was able to follow the competition team schedule and train with all of those guys. I had a blast and was able to bring a lot of great stuff back home,” said Rader.
Recently, in February, the jiu jitsu world saw Justin once again donning his familiar gi and stepping on the mats at the Houston Open, a place that few expected to see him based on recent comments. Rader, a strong supporter of the Save Jiu Jitsu movement, along with his coach Rafael Lovato, Jr., is still adamantly against the idea of “advantages” in competition, but has softened his stance about NOT competing in IBJJF events in the future.
“All in all, I’m going to leave the door open to any and all competitions that make sense and fit into my MMA schedule. At the end of the day, I’m a competitor and I want to make sure my skills are always battle tested. I was preparing to be on a Legacy fight card in February that didn’t happen, so the Houston Open was a way to get out and there and test myself, while I was there coaching my team. Winning the gold was not my priority, but it was the cherry on top of a great weekend of competition for Team Lovato,” said Rader.
Watch Justin Rader live on AXS TV on Friday, April 3rd as he steps onto the MMA battleground for the 4th time at Legacy Fighting Championships 41 in Tulsa, OK.
Justin is sponsored by On the Mat, Lucky Gi, Green Strength, PR2 Systems, Mike Calimbas photography and Brookover Company.
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