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SportsMixed Martial Arts

Back to the octagon for Nick Catone in UFC 128

Walking into a room to see a grown man strapped to an inversion table and hanging upside down, you might stop and wonder just what sort of a hullabaloo was taking place.

"My girl thought I was nuts in the beginning," Nick Catone said.

But if that's the best way for the mixed martial artist from Englewood, N.J., to lessen the pain of herniated discs in his back, then strap him in, flip him over (or angle him) and let gravity do its job.

That, along with an epidural, rest and additional treatment has Catone ready to return to the octagon after a 15-month layoff this Saturday in UFC 128 at The Prudential Center in Newark. Catone will fight Costantinos Philippou of Massapequa in a preliminary bout at a 195-pound catchweight.

"That thing has worked the best so far," said Catone (8-2, 2-2 UFC). "That thing stretches me out pretty good."

Philippou was a last-minute replacement. Catone's original opponent Dan Miller was bumped up to the main card to fight Nate Marquardt after Yoshihiro Akiyama remained in Japan in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

With such a short notice of change in opponent, there's really nothing Catone can do to alter his training regimen and gameplan. All he can do is drill a few things and do some online research on Philippou, something no doubt Philippou did for Catone.

But here's the catch: Anything found on Catone is from more than a year ago. Things change. "I feel like I'm a different fighter, especially after I made the move out to Ricardo Almeida's gym," Catone said.

Almeida is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the legendary Renzo Gracie and opened his own academy in New Jersey a few years ago. He's also mentor to UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, and is fighting on UFC 128 against Mike Pyle (watch it for free at facebook.com/ufc).

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