By Richard Cawley
Jimi Manuwa reckons he has extra motivation as he makes his 02 Arena return on March 17.
The Croydon fighter, 37, was knocked out at UFC 214 in California by Volkan Oezdemir in July.
Now light-heavyweight Manuwa looks to put himself back into world title contention as he meets Poland’s Jan Blachowicz in Greenwich. The South Londoner won a
unanimous points verdict over the same opponent just under two years ago.
“I must have had a week or two off [after his loss] to lick my wounds and then went straight back into training,” said Manuwa. “I wanted to get another win – not to redeem myself but just to stay active.
“I don’t really have training camps, I tend to train all year round. I kept asking for fights at the end of last year. When I knew I wasn’t going to be fighting and I was on the London card I stepped off just a bit in November and enjoyed the Christmas period with my family and friends. But I was straight back on it on January 1.
“My last fight was a learning curve for me. I just had an off-night. I wasn’t focused. I got caught in a clinch and that was it really. I wasn’t aggressive. I pushed him against the cage, which is something I never do usually – it’s normally the other way around. He sort of exploded and caught me.
“At this level there is no time to think, you have got to act in there.”
Manuwa has his eyes on a shot at light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, 38. The American is going up a division to challenge Stipe Miocic, the heavyweight title-holder, on July 6.
“Cormier is a short, fat wrestler,” said Manuwa. “I don’t like the guy. I respect him – he’s a champion. If you don’t want to fight the champion then what am I doing? I don’t like his attitude and the way he speaks down to people.
“If I win my next fight it cements my place in the top four in the world. Anything can happen. You could get the call to fight for the title at any time, with Cormier going up to heavyweight. So having a recent win and being in the top-four puts you in a good position.”
Manuwa can’t wait to pull on the gloves and step into the octagon in Greenwich.
“I’m one of the main attractions on the night,” he said. “London is my hometown. I love fighting at home. I’m not one who wants to fight in America and get famous. I’m more of a quiet type of person who just wants to fight and make money.”
Tickets to UFC Fight Night London are on general sale via AXS and Ticketmaster.