During his run in Great Britain’s regional MMA scene, Jimi Manuwa got the call to join the UFC. Contracts were offered, which is a dream come true for a lot of young fighters who are trying to grab the spotlight.
But Manuwa turned down the offers, instead focusing on self-improvement before jumping on the big stage of mixed martial arts. As a result, the fighter cultivated an undefeated record before finally accepting the UFC’s offer to fight, and is now 3-0 in the Octagon.
On the eve of his first main event in the promotion, a fight with one of the division’s best in Alexander Gustafsson, Manuwa said everything went according to how he drew it up for himself.
“It speaks for itself. I think I made the right decisions at the time when I turned them down and it’s paying off now,” Manuwa recently told The Great Debate Podcast. “I’m fighting the No. 2 in the world. Everything’s gone according to plan.”
Manuwa accepted his contract and now has his toughest test in front of him. A fight with Gustafsson is one where, ahead of the fight, most are already picking Manuwa to lose. To some that might be demeaning, but to “Poster Boy,” that’s what he likes to hear.
Being the underdog is a favorable position for Manuwa. With Gustafsson as the betting favorite, the chance to drop jaws in astonishment grows that much more.
“I kind of like that, being in the background and not being talked about too much because when I do shock the world, it’s going to be a big wave of ‘Oh my God,’” he said. “Things will play into my favor.”
The shock-the-world opportunity is one of the things that Manuwa said he’s looking forward to most. A win may propel him to the top of the division, and could possibly set him up to fight for the light heavyweight title.
As of right now, divisional champion Jon Jones has his hands full with preparing for an April 26 date with Glover Teixeira. But what if Teixeira beats Jones? That’s a question asked by Manuwa because, if it happens, he said the world will find a way to fathom a main even between him and Teixeira some time in the future.
Imagine the possibility.
“Imagine that I beat Gustafsson, and imagine that Texeira beats Jon Jones. Everyone’s theory will be out the window.” he said. “It keeps me focused on shocking the world.”
And how does Manuwa plan on shocking the world, might you ask? Well, his punching power is something he said is greater than anyone at 205 pounds, and he plans on showcasing that in his home country this coming Saturday.
“I don’t think anyone hits as hard as I do in the light heavyweight division,” he said. “And I think I’m going to show that on March 8.”
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