Mixed martial arts ace Marc Diakiese is determined to grasp the biggest opportunity of his short fighting career when he competes at UFC 204 in Manchester this weekend.
The Armthorpe fighter is making his debut on the biggest stage in the sport with the Ultimate Fighting Championship against Iran’s Reza Madadi on a major card on Saturday night.
And the 23-year-old is keen to impress.
“UFC is the biggest mixed martial arts organisation in the world,” he told the Free Press.
“Every MMA fighter wants to be part of it so I’m very grateful to have signed a contract with them.
“This is a big show. The capacity at the arena is 21,000 and it sold out in six minutes.
“So it’s a massive opportunity for me to get my name out there and make a big impression.”
Originally from Congo, Diakiese arrived in Doncaster in 2005.
He began training at Doncaster Martial Arts Centre in Wheatley six years ago, working under owner Neil White and initially learning the Brazilian art jiu-jitsu.
Lightweight Diakiese now splits his time training in Manchester and Hemsworth where he trains alongside fellow UFC fighter Scott Askham.
Unbeaten in nine professional fights, he is out to extend that record this weekend on a card headlined by Michael Bisping, the first ever British fighter to win a UFC world championship who will defend his middleweight title against Dan Henderson.
“Michael Bisping is not a fighter I’ve ever been that excited by but I admire what he’s done,” Diakiese said.
“He’s made a big impression as a British fighter and he’s got the attention of the sport over here.
“That’s meant there are opportunities for British fighters like me.
“I’ve always liked the American, Jon Jones. He’s the one that really got me interested.
“I like his style and the way he goes about things.
“I’m a bit of an all-rounder as a fighter and I’m always looking to improve.”
Opponent Madadi has a professional record of 14 wins and four losses, including a three wins and two defeat record in the UFC.
Diakiese sees this weekend’s bout as his first step towards glory on the world stage.
He said: “I truly believe I will win the world lightweight title.
“This is just the beginning really and I‘ve got plenty of improvement to come.
“But I’ve always had the belief that I will be a world champion.”
Diakiese’s fight will be shown on UFC Fight Pass at www.ufc.tv from 11.30pm on Saturday night.