LAS VEGAS —Maki Pitolo is keen to show that he can hang at 185 pounds.
Former welterweight campaigner Pitolo (13-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) punched his ticket to the UFC on “Dana White’s Contender Series” as a middleweight and said he has no intention of dropping back down to 170 pounds.
He might be a smaller middleweight, but Pitolo is confident that he can find success in his new weight class, which started out with second-round finish over Charles Byrd at UFC 250.
Pitolo faces Darren Stewart (11-5 MMA, 4-1 UFC) Saturday at UFC on ESPN+ 32, where he’ll look to continue his momentum and send a message to the rest of the division.
“I wanted a bigger guy, I wanted to have a serious opponent that will potentially wake up the middleweight division and let them know I mean business,” Pitolo told reporters at Thursday’s UFC on ESPN+ 32 virtual media day. “A lot of people are thinking I should bounce back and forth between welterweight and middleweight, but this is where I got my contract, this is where I mean business and this is where I want to be.”
With all but two of his pro career wins coming by finish, “Coconut Bombz” is approaching this fight the same way he always does, with fight-ending intentions.
“He’s a strong opponent, he’s a very dangerous guy, and I’m a very dangerous guy, so we’re gonna go in there, we’re dogs,” Pitolo said. “I’m gonna go in there and throw down and do what I do best, look for the opportunity to finish at every aspect of the game, and I know my confidence and what I’ve done in this camp will prevail.”
UFC on ESPN+32 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card streams on ESPN+.