Sunday, 15 March 2015

UFC Poland: Jimi Manuwa aims to keeps it standing against Jan Blachowicz

Jimi Manuwa says he is back to full fitness and raring to go ahead of his UFC Fight Night: Krakow co-main event against Jan Blachowicz on April 11.

The British light-heavyweight was meant to face Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua in November but pulled out because of a stress fracture to his fourth metatarsal.

Speaking to Mirror Fighting, Manuwa said, “I had some time off with my family and got straight back into training as soon as I could. It was the first time I’ve had to pull out of a fight and it was the right decision for my team to make.

“At the time the metatarsal was literally about to break but I was training on it every day. I’d never had this injury before so I didn’t know anything about it. I could have gone into the fight with a broken foot but kicking is one of my strongest weapons.”

The 35-year-old has been rebuilding at Allstars MMA in Stockholm, Sweden, where he trains with Alexander Gustafsson who handed him his first loss in March 2014.

“I’m comfortable there,” said Manuwa. “Everything’s so organised and (coach) Andreas Michael gives you so much confidence and inspiration. He’s a great man and a great person. I’ve always been friendly with Alex as well – before, during and after our fight.

“We remain friends and we want to help each other get better – that’s what it’s all about. He’s a cool guy, very relaxed and friendly like myself. We’re not loud, aggressive, out-there people. We get on fine without talking much.”

So after Gustafsson smashed Manuwa inside a round a year ago, has the Englishman changed how he thinks about the sport?

“Not really. I am who I am and I tune my training to the fighter I am. I don’t think I could change anything now. How I fight is what got me into the UFC in the first place.”

And the 205lbs division is now one of the most exciting in the UFC, with Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson tearing through Gustafsson in two minutes and 15 seconds in January.

After returning to the UFC following a two-year hiatus - also making the huge jump from welterweight to light-heavyweight - Johnson will now face 205lbs champion Jon Jones at UFC 187 on May 23.

“It’s one of those fights I can’t call,” admitted Manuwa. “Johnson is really explosive around rounds one and two but if Jones survives that he can come into the fight. Jones knows what he’s good at and how he likes to fight.

“He’s very good at making the fight his own fight and that’s why he’s got the belt. I think he’ll move up to heavyweight and beat most of the guys there too.”

But before the Croydon ace can think any further about the champion, he will have to cut down Blachowicz, a tough Polish fighter who avenged a defeat to Rameau Sokoudjou in 2011 to grab the KSW title.

The Poznan native, 31, made his UFC debut last October when he dismantled Ilir Latifi with a savage kick to the body in the first round.

“It was impressive,” said Manuwa. “He’s a great fighter but he’ll be shooting for the takedown. I like all styles of MMA, my first classes in the sport were BJJ but I prefer to stand up. I’ll keep the fight on the feet because it’s an easier and quicker way to finish the fight than by submission.”

By Alistair Hendrie (The Mirror)

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