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An injured back gave George Roop more than a year to assess the state of the UFC’s featherweight division, and he didn’t like what he saw.

At 6-foot-1, Roop towers over most of his fellow 145-pounders. But he said his height doesn’t necessarily translate to size or strength, and that was becoming more and more apparent as he looked around the UFC’s featherweight division.

“During [my recovery] process, I was just seeing how big these 145-pounders were, and I wanted to go down to bantamweight,” Roop told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I’ve gotten a lot of criticism for it initially, but I know it’s definitely the right move for me, especially with how big these 145-pounders are walking around at. You’ve got to give yourself the biggest advantage when fighting the top one percent of fighters in the world.”

Roop (12-9-1 MMA, 2-5 UFC) makes the drop to 135 pounds when he meets Reuben Duran (8-4-1 MMA, 1-2 UFC) on March 16 at UFC 158. Their bout, which streams on Facebook ahead of the FX prelims and pay-per-view main card, opens the show.

It’s actually a second drop to bantamweight for Roop, who suffered a loss to Eddie Wineland in early 2010 after a one-fight trial run at the weight. He said it was the “hardest thing I ever had to do,” largely because he started the drop from 165 pounds.

This time, though?

“I’m going to say something very cliche, but this has been absolutely the easiest weight cut of my life,” he said. “Right now I’m sitting at 144 pounds. I’m eating seven times a day. My energy level is excellent. I’m feeling great.”

Seriously, he eats seven times a day. In fact, it’s a big reason Roop decided to move down to 135 pounds. As a featherweight, he said he tried everything possible to pack on pounds – from consulting with a nutritionist to incorporating heavy lifting into his camp.

“I’ve done it all, brother,” he said.

He said some fans consider this latest weight drop a matter of him gaming the system. Even guys at his gym scoff at the notion that a 6-foot-1 fighter needs to cut all the way down to 135 pounds.

“But the reality is that I don’t walk around very heavy,” he said. “The biggest weight I’ve ever seen on a scale is 165. I’ve never seen more than that on a scale. My bones are probably lighter, and I’m already pretty scrawny. With my genetics, it’s hard to put weight on me.”

Now, hoping to rebound from back-to-back losses to Hatsu Hioki and Cub Swanson, Roop has his targets set on Duran, who looks to avoid his third loss in four UFC fights.

Roop doesn’t really know him personally, but he’s making a bold prediction.

“He’s going down,” Roop said. “He’s going down like a blonde on prom night. He doesn’t stand a chance. This is a great fight for me. I know they call him like ‘The Hurricane,’ but I don’t think he’s even a Category 1 tropical storm.

“I’m fired up. I don’t like any of the people I fight. I’m not trying to be friends with anyone I fight. It’s just how I am in a fight. I know I’m meaner than this guy, I know I’m better, and I’m hungry. I’ve been out of there for a year, and I’m going to go in there and make an example out of him.”

For more on UFC 158, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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