MMA veteran Din Thomas (24-8) has fought a virtual who's who of the sport's lightweight division. He has recently dropped down to compete at 145 pounds. Din recently took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his career, his new weight class, Ricardo Mayorga, writing rap lyrics and much more.
Rich Wyatt: You fought earlier in 2009 on the undercard of the Roy Jones-Jeff Lacy fight. You competed at featherweight and won in the first round. With your skill set and experience, you would be a threat to most featherweights out there. Does the 145 pound class feel more natural for you?
Din Thomas: Definitely feels more natural. I made the cut fine and was able to recover nicely. I don't feel like I'm bigger than most guys at 145. I mostly just don't feel like I'm at a disadvantage any longer. This is the right fighting weight for me. I'm happy to be in the mix with these guys at 145.
Rich Wyatt: The featherweight and bantamweight divisions now have much more visibility thanks to the WEC, Strikeforce and other promotions showcasing fighters at that weight. Do you agree that the depth in those weight classes has increased exponentially in the past couple of years?
Din Thomas: I think so. The reason why is partly due to the fact that the 155 pound division has gotten so deep. Guys that walk around at 185 cut to 155. Natural 155'ers are cutting to 145 now. 145 is a LOT deeper because of the talent at 155. It was a domino effect.
Rich Wyatt: Tell our readers where you spend the majority of your time training now. Who are some of the training partners that you're working with?
Din Thomas: It depends on what the fight is that I have coming up. Obviously, I try to work with American Top Team in Coconut Creek as much as possible with guys like Mike Brown and Yves Edwards. Depending on what I have going on, I like to train in Orlando some as well. I've got my crew of guys here in Port St. Lucie: Mario Rinaldi and several other local talented guys. Between those three places is where I get my work in.
Rich Wyatt: Switching gears for just a second, I've heard that you can write some nice rhymes. Are you a big fan of Hip-Hop music? Is writing lyrics a way that you like to spend some free time?
Din Thomas: I LOVE Hip-Hop. I used to write lyrics sometimes. Depending on where I'm at in my life dictates what I do in spare time. Before fights I'm not as interested in it. When I'm on downtime I like to write lyrics occasionally as well as do some acting. I've taken some acting classes in the past five years. But it's a lot of work to shop yourself as an actor. I just take jobs as they come open.
Rich Wyatt: It was recently announced that you've signed to compete with the SHINE Fights promotion. They have also supposedly signed former world boxing champion Ricardo Maygorga and you're rumored to be his first opponent. Is that fight official?
Din Thomas: As far as I know, it's official. I signed and it's a done deal as far as I'm concerned. If he accepts, he's going to get a beatdown. Taking this fight would be the worst mistake he's ever made, in my opinion. I'm going to put on a show that night. I'm waiting on him to make it official on his part and we'll go to war.
Rich Wyatt: If that fights does occur, how do you see it going?
Din Thomas: You know, it's hard to say. I think it's such a fun fight for me because I can do whatever I want. It would almost be too easy to take him down and submit him. I know that I can stand with him so I'll probably stand with him for awhile. I'm going to show him and the boxing community that MMA guys can throw down.
Rich Wyatt: I know that you've worked with some talented people from the boxing world and you're no stranger to boxing. Didn't you even do some sparring with former world champion Zab Judah a few years back?
Din Thomas: Yeah, I sparred with him when he was training for Cory Spinks. I had to go southpaw but I had a lot of fun. He hits a lot harder than he looks. His speed was great but he hits hard too. He used to train some at ATT in Coconut Creek. I've known the Berto's, Andre and Edson, for years as well and they're great athletes. I wouldn't be surprised to see Andre compete one day as well.
Rich Wyatt: In your career you've got victories now over two former world champions and have fought some of the best fighters in the sport. Looking back, who was the best fighter that you've faced, in your opinion, and why?
Din Thomas: I've got to say B.J. Penn. And I don't even have to think much about it to say that. He's the most dominant fighter in his division. Maybe even more dominant that Silva or GSP in their divisions. I think Kenny is one of the best. I didn't get a chance to showcase much in that fight because I got injured early on. I've seen him progress and he's improved to be a smart, intelligent fighter. I try to pick up things from everyone I fought. Those are two of the best. I learned a lot from Matt Serra as well. Being around him and watching him, I've learned a lot.
Rich Wyatt: Some veterans in the fight game point out that "Speed and reflexes are the first thing to go. Power is the last thing to go." That's why it usually proves to be more difficult for fighters in the lower weight classes to compete at a high level later into their careers. At 33-years-old you appear to have maintained both your speed and your reflexes quite nicely. What does your training and preparation typically consist of?
Din Thomas: I play around a lot. I think that helps. A lot of guys get in the sport and just train because they like to fight. I fight because I like to train. I like to play around and have fun in training, like a kid in a playground. My speed will never be sacrificed too much unless I'm injured. My game is based on movement and speed. If I lose my speed my game definitely goes down.
Rich Wyatt: You've won a couple of fights in a row now and have some momentum. How busy would you like to stay in 2010?
Din Thomas: Just as busy as I've been. I'm not a young up and coming fighter where I need to fight every month or two. Two or three fights a year is good for me. I'm okay with that.
Rich Wyatt: Which fighter out there do you most enjoy watching?
Din Thomas: There are a lot of guys, actually. That's a tough question and it depends on my mood. Depending on what I'm working on in training at the time, I like Demian Maia or Aoki. For standup, a guy like Anderson Silva is fun to watch. At the end of the day, though, GSP is fun to watch because he's a great technical fighter. He doesn't make many mistakes and he seems to do everything right.
Rich Wyatt: Thanks for taking the time to talk with MMA For Real. Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?
Din Thomas: Definitely I'd like to thank the fans. I'd also like to thank Strategy Fight Gear, 1001Submissions.com and TheNextFighter.com.