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Joey Diehl Ready to Make Run at Strawweight


Joey Diehl XFO 50

The annual XFO Outdoor War is set to go down Saturday at Sideouts in Island Lake. Team Curran’s Joey Diehl will be there, making his second appearance as a strawweight. Yes, you read that right — strawweight.

It’s not often you hear of a male fighter dropping down to 115, at least not here in the US, because there just aren’t that many men fighting at strawweight. None of the major promotions carry a roster for that division, at least not yet. But for Diehl, it’s all about giving himself the best chance to succeed in his career.

“For me, 125 is too easy to make. I walk around at about 128-130 and my last few fights at 125 were against some very large 25ers. 115 really fits my frame much better,” Diehl told Chicago’s MMA.

Diehl plans to stick at strawweight, a weight class that is growing here in the states, but still does not have any American fighters ranked in the top ten. Thailand’s Rambaa “M16” Somdet is the top-ranked strawweight in the world. Somdet is 12-2 and has won 11 straight fights. The rest of the top ten is rounded out by Brazil’s Karl Marx Mazoni and eight Japanese fighters.

Diehl knows that to further his career he will indeed have to fight in locales where blond-headed guys with beards tend to stand out.

“I’m absolutely interested in getting some international fights at this weight. Japan has a lot of very talented fighters around my weight class.”

But for now, there is a growing list of flyweights making the drop to 115, so Diehl will still be able to get fights here at home, like the one he has Saturday against Kendrick Latchman.

“I think there’s a good deal of strawweights for me to fight. I also believe there’s some guys who are in the same position as me, being a little too small for 125 and if given the option, they could and would drop down to 115.”

There’s also this: shortly after the UFC established their flyweight division, Dana White spoke about the UFC creating a men’s strawweight division. That comment was made early in 2013, and there hasn’t been any news about it since. But the UFC seeks global domination, and creating a strawweight division would be another step toward that.

Diehl will be making his fifth appearance in the Outdoor War, fighting in a cage placed on a beach volleyball court. “My first fight ever was at Outdoor War back in 2009. It’s a great event, and every year it gets better and better. The XFO puts on a great show.”

Joey Diehl XFO 41 cutExpect Diehl to put on a great show. Win or lose, it seems as if there is always something memorable about his fights. A perfect example would be the insanely grotesque cut he suffered at XFO 41, which was also an Outdoor War event. That picture has long been one of the most-visited pages on our site, and it was picked up by many larger news outlets.

“That was a good memory! It was the first time I was cut badly in a fight. I had a feeling it was gonna be bad when it happened but I know I just had to keep pushing thru it and thankfully the ref didn’t stop the fight early because I ended up submitting my opponent after I got cut.”

Diehl ended up fighting through the cut and all the blood, then wrapped Josh Epps up in a triangle choke to get the win.

As for his XFO 52 fight against Latchman, Diehl said he watched a bit of tape of his opponent, but it doesn’t change his plan too much.

“I typically do watch my opponent’s fights if possible, but I also don’t like that to dictate my strategy too much. Sometimes it’s better not to over think things. Kendrick looks like a very tough opponent and a good athlete. I’m excited to compete against him. I predict a great fight with me winning.”

You can watch Joey Diehl and the rest of the XFO 52 card at Sideouts Bar and Eatery in Island Lake. The amateur card begins at 1:30pm, then the pros take to the cage after that. For tickets, visit bit.ly/outdoorwar.

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is the former play-by-play announcer for the XFO and other organizations, and he has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided, and more.

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