Lorenz Larkin did not ask for a soft landing at 185 pounds, and he did not receive one.

Larkin will make his middleweight debut against former EliteXC titleholder and Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Robbie Lawler at Strikeforce “Rockhold vs. Kennedy” on Saturday at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore. The decision to leave the 205-pound division brought with it a new set of challenges for the undefeated 25-year-old.

“It was hard at first with the dieting,” Larkin told Sherdog.com, “but now I’m in a groove and doing well with it.”

The benefits of a change in weight class overshadow any negatives, according to Larkin, who trains out of the Empire Training Center and Millennia MMA camps in California.

“There may be a little change in the speed of my opponents but nothing that’s going to be a big difference,” he said. “My opponents will be smaller and I’ll get a little faster and maintain my power, so, for me, it’s a win-win. My opponents were getting bigger and stronger [at light heavyweight]. When I was on the local circuit, the guys weren’t much bigger than me, but as I moved up in class, they were getting bigger and bigger.”

Lawler poses a serious threat, especially on his feet. The 30-year-old has delivered 16 of his 19 professional victories by knockout or technical knockout. His finishes on 2000 Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland, Dutch striker Melvin Manhoef and former Icon Sport middleweight champion Frank Trigg were particularly vicious and unnerving.

“He’s a hard hitter and very dangerous,” Larkin said. “You definitely can’t let your guard down on him.”

Larkin welcomes the opportunity Strikeforce has placed before him.

“It means everything, because it will be the first big name that I’ll beat,” he said. “I think it will catapult my career. I’m happy with Strikeforce. I want to push myself in this organization and win a title.”

Larkin has not fought since losing to Muhammed Lawal by second-round technical knockout in January. The decision was later ruled a no contest by the Nevada Athletic Commission after “King Mo” tested positive for suspected steroid use, thus restoring Larkin’s unbeaten record. When asked whether or not he learned anything from the experience, Larkin fired a sharp barb across the bow.

“Yes,” he said, “[I learned] how strong you become when you take steroids.”

Having dropped anchor at 185 pounds, Larkin aims to resume what he feels he does best: win fights and entertain the masses.

“I want to go out and put on an exciting performance because it’s what the fans pay to see,” he said. “I mean, they take time out of their day to watch me fight, so I want to go out and deliver a fight that will get the fans going.”

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