Q. You’ve been on a winning streak for the last four years, what do you put your current success down to?
A. I really believe in building a support system that you believe in, which is why I’ve gone against the grain and stayed in the UK to train with coaches that have supported me throughout my career. I’ve been advised by many people to move to the US to further my career, but I’ve proved that it’s not the formula for success. The tie between community and progress is something that I value highly. I grew up in Birmingham, UK and I’m stronger because of it. I also believe that success in any field can very much be attributed to hard work, tenacity and the ability to maintain a positive outlook regardless of external circumstances.
Q. What’s next for you in the UFC?
A. My next bout will be on March 21 against former welterweight world champion Tyron Woodley. Whoever wins this fight will be competing for the number one spot, moving on to compete for the world title in the division.
Q. How has your game changed since the close decision loss to current welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman?
A. Learning from your past is such a key part of life and that fight is no exception. I have improved in leaps and bounds since competing against Kamaru. My understanding of grappling and MMA has deepened and that’s made a huge difference. When I do get the opportunity to fight again against Kamaru for the title I’ll go in there and do what I do best, which is focus on my game and everything I’ve learnt. I’ve always been confident in my abilities and that’s what will lead me to victory against Kamaru.
Q. Can you describe the feeling of stepping into the Octagon? What does it feel like? What are your first thoughts upon entering?
A. The feeling is surreal. Walking into the octagon with 20,000 people in the arena definitely gets my adrenaline going, but once I’m ready to go I’m completely focused on the job at hand. I think people don’t realise that this is my job and my passion. I live and breathe it. Once I’m in the octagon I’m thinking about the game plan that my coaches and I have been working on for the ten weeks leading up to the fight. It’s imperative that I stay calm and collected throughout the chaos going on around me in the crowd.
Q. Which fighter on the current roster do you most admire and why?
A. Jon Jones. He’s sustained his status as a champion for a long time, and works with what he’s got. I can respect his technique and he uses being the taller fighter in most bouts.
Q. How do you see your career playing out? What goals do you have before you step away from the fight game?
A. My goal is to become a welterweight champion in the UFC. Long term, solidifying a legacy as one of the greatest welterweight fighters of all time is something that I strive for. Giving back to kids of the same background as me through that legacy is something that is close to me. I didn’t grow up privileged. I had to fight for everything I have now. I want to show kids that if they believe in themselves and put in the work they will get the dreams they deserve.