Beginning at UFC 204, former British champion Marc Diakiese is focused on conquering the Lightweight division to repay those who helped him realise UFC dream.
On October 8 at the Manchester Arena, undefeated Diakiese gets the chance to prove his value as the top Lightweight in the UK when he faces late replacement Lukasz Sajewski.
The feeling has yet to sink in for young Diakiese, who proved himself to be one of the UK’s leading 155lbers during his stint in British promotion BAMMA. There he captured the British title and defeated bitter rival Kane Mousah.
When asked about the decision to leave the organisation, he explained: “BAMMA wouldn’t give me no [world] title shot and I thought I’d done enough than any UK Lightweight, I thought I deserved to be in the UFC after that.”
However, the man from Atherton Submission Wrestling harboured no ill feelings towards his former employers.
“For me I’m just on my journey, I’m just fighting. BAMMA is a great promotion and obviously they’ve given me a great platform. For me personally, I think BAMMA is the best in Europe.
“If I didn’t sign for the UFC, I couldn’t see my self signing for any other promotion other than BAMMA, they’re great. Personally I feel they pay better than other promotions in the UK, they paid better than other offers I had.”
A potential fight against Lightweight champion Martin Stapleton was hinted at, but never materialised.
He was initially pencilled to fight Reza Madadi on this Saturday’s pay-per-view, making the UFC’s intentions clear to throw 23-year-old Diakiese straight into the deep end of the 155 division.
“I do feel the UFC know the calibre I’m fighting so they want to test me to see if I can get through them, after that we’ll see what happens. As you know I’m confident in my own game, so I just feel like UFC know what they’re doing.
“They probably believe I’m a better fighter than most Lightweights that have come out of the UK.”
Instead, the Doncaster based fighter has been matched with Poland’s Sajewski. Coming off two loses, “Wookie” has a decent wrestling game, but it is nothing compared to the level of previous foe Madadi.
Regardless of the opponent change, Diakiese championed his progression and confidence for Saturday night.
“I’m always working on my all round game. I would say I’ve made a lot of improvement since the Jack McGann fight. People just haven’t seen it. I feel very confident, I just feel a lot of my game has come on since.
“Now it’s time to believe that the hard work I’ve put in over these years and my ability. I do believe now is the right time.”
The monetary incentive to sign with the UFC is one of the most influential elements for up-and-coming fighters.
Despite the fact he will be making more money, Diakiese claimed he will not let his financial gain change who he is and where he has come from.
“It’s going to be the same Marc Diakiese, I don’t think I’m going to change anything. My main goal is to one day give back to those who have helped me not only in my career, but in my own life.
“My Uncle brought me to this country, My mum, I just like to give back, that would mean the world to me, paying back what they’ve done for me. That would be the main thing. Apart form that nothing will change for me, I’m happy who I am.
“If anything it makes it easier for me because I don’t lose focus. I know what I want, when I’m coming into a fight, i don’t think ‘it’s a fight, I think this means everything.”
With two knockouts in two fights, the Lightweight prospect professed an affinity towards securing his hat-trick at UFC 204.
“All I can say is, I’m looking red hot. I know my hands are feeling different right now. If I land I know it’s game over, I can feel it coming.”