When Nik Lentz decided to make an investment, he looked no further than the man in the mirror.
After winning $65,000 as a "Fight of the Night" bonus in a loss to Evan Dunham in January, the Minnesota-based Lentz took the money, disassembled his training camp, and started afresh at American Top Team in Florida.
It led the 28-year-old former NCAA Division I wrestler to what was arguably his most impressive big-show win to date, which came at this past weekend's UFC 150 event.
"I literally changed everything about my life," Lentz told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). "I used the money I got from 'Fight of the Night' previously, and I invested almost all of it into training, hiring new coaches, traveling around to see which ones were the best gyms in the country.
"I ended choosing ATT just because I think it's the best gym in the country, the world actually. I got (diet consultant) Mike Dolce. I also got a new strength and conditioning trainer because I was missing some explosiveness."
That explosiveness was fully in display Aug. 11 at Denver's Pepsi Center. In UFC 150's lone Facebook fight, Lentz dropped from lightweight to featherweight and dismantled Japanese veteran Eiji Mitsuoka in a four-minute TKO beatdown.
Lentz, who said it was actually easier cutting to featherweight than lightweight, said the drop made a difference.
"At 145, I'm twice as strong, twice as fast, and I'm just prepared 10 times better than what I was at 155," he said.
Lentz decided to shake up his camp after experiencing a three-fight winless streak. After a no-contest with Charles Oliveira (due to his opponent's illegal knee), Dunham then suffered a decision loss to Mark Bocek and the TKO defeat Dunham, which earned him that pivotal $65,000 bonus.
Prior to that three-fight winless streak, Lentz went 5-0-1 in his first six UFC fights, which extended an overall undefeated streak to 14 fights. That type of success, despite fans' complaints about a lay-and-pray style, admittedly made Lentz a little "hard-headed" about staying in the lightweight division.
But after the losses, he wised up.
"One of the things I can't work on obviously is I can't get taller," he said. "I can't get longer arms. Some of the guys at 155 pounds are just really bigger than me. That's something I needed to realize. You don't realize it until you go back and watch the tapes."
Those tapes also showed a fighter who lacked real entertainment value. They also showed a fighter winging power punches that just didn't have the finishing power the bigger lightweights had.
So he made the decision to leave the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy for ATT. Granted, he still lives in Minnesota and trains at the academy between fights, and he and his old teammates get along just fine. But with the training staff, he decided to bite the bullet when he made the decision.
"It was different," he said. "Any time you indrectly or directly tell someone they're not getting job done, there are some hard feelings. But I made a choice, and if I want to continue being a fighter and get the goals I want to get to, you can't worry about stuff like that. I just kind of put that behind him.
"Anyone who's actually that selfish and would be mad at me because of it, they don't need to be in my life anyway."