Marc Diakiese is getting set for his first title defence when he takes on Rick Selvarajah at BAMMA 22 later this month.
The 22-year-old is busy trying to perfect all aspects of his game as he gets ready to defend the BAMMA Lonsdale British Lightweight title he won against Jack McGann earlier in 2015.
Being the champion has certainly not dulled the fire in Diakiese, if anything, those flames are burning stronger than before.
“At the moment I am just focused on improving my game, because honestly, I have got a lot of critics.
“Even though I beat Jack McGann, people are still not giving me the credit I deserve.
“People like Kane Mousah are calling me out; anybody that calls me out I am happy to be in a fight.
“For the moment, I am not calling anyone out, I got the title and I am ready to take on whoever.”
It is fair comment from Diakiese who was accused of defensive tactics when he beat McGann at BAMMA 19 to win the title by unanimous decision.
Perhaps more than any other fighter at BAMMA he has faced the most conflicting criticisms since winning his belt and he knows he needs to put on a performance to show he deserves his title.
“I am not really feeling like the champion, it is more that I beat Jack McGann and I want to show that I am one to watch. I am good and the real deal.
“That is what I want to show to everybody as some people still underestimate me and think I am not all that, but since beating Jack McGann I think that I left a message there for the lightweight division.”
2015 has proven to be a big year for Diakiese who, as well as winning the title, also moved gyms.
“I left Ludus Magnus before my last fight and moved to ASW. It wasn’t really the right place for me anymore, the time comes when you have got to move on and move somewhere better, that is what I did.
“Ludus was good, I can’t take anything away from it but at ASW I get designed training, a lot of technical stuff which at Ludus I didn’t.
“I feel like have learned a lot.”
Having given up a promising career in football to be an MMA fighter, Diakiese knows the benefit of hard graft and is empowered to be the best he can in his chosen sport.
He said: “It keeps it me on the right track. I know as a fighter that no one can tell you are no good like in football where there is someone telling you are not good enough.
“In MMA, it is me that decides, I know whether I am good or not and it keeps me out of trouble as well.
“It is very stressful. A lot of people think I have got a lot of money as I am the champion, but I haven’t.
“I work full-time doing this sport and that really drains you. I do a lot of driving as well, going to Manchester and Mansfield and all that driving is costing me easily £80 a day on fuel, so that is a struggle at times.
“I am just focusing on MMA full-time. I want to make sure it works.”
BAMMA 22 takes place at 3Arena, Dublin on 19 September. Tickets are on sale here: http://bit.ly/BAMMA22