Will Kent, ESPN UK 54d

Marc Diakiese warns UFC 219 opponent Dan Hooker: I come to fight and throw my crazy stuff

MMA, UFC

Marc Diakiese is set for the biggest fight of his career on Saturday night when he takes on Dan Hooker in Las Vegas on the UFC 219 card, stating the "sky's the limit" as to how far he can go in the sport.

Diakiese (12-1), who lost his his undefeated record to Drakkar Klose in his last fight in July via split decision, is looking to not only bounce-back from his loss but to also make a mark on the UK MMA scene.

His upcoming high-profile bout against Hooker (14-7) comes as surprise given his most recent defeat, but he's fully prepared for the biggest stage of his career. The match-up against the New Zealander was recently elevated to the pay-per-view main card after the fight between John Lineker and Jimmie Rivera suffered late cancellation due to the former's tooth infection.

"One hundred percent, it's one of my goals," Diakiese told ESPN when asked if he sees himself as England's next big UFC star when Michael Bisping retires. "When I feel like I've got the UK behind me, I know I can't let them down. To me it's not a pressure; it's something I've always wanted to do.

"Now I have this support that I've always wanted, as I didn't have this support when I was coming up, but now I have that I've got to give them what they want. I'm coming off a loss, it's not just about winning, my fans expect me to do something crazy and that's what I bring and that's what I'm going to do.

"I come to fight and throw my crazy stuff, and that's just me."

Diakiese, 24, will be making just his fourth UFC appearance when he steps into the octagon on Dec. 30 but that hasn't stopped the promotion from including him in their most recent video game beta version. He was one of just 15 fighters available to gamers, signalling his importance to the UFC's growth.

"To say I'm coming off a loss and [for the UFC] to put me on the [video game] trailer that makes me realise they have hopes in me, so it's all up to me how far I want to take it," Diakiese said.

"If I want to make it, then go for it, and if I want to fail, it's up to me as well. It made me realise I have got a place in the UFC.

"I'm not a big name like Bisping or [Conor] McGregor, I'm not there yet. But to be there with them [on the game] it just made realise. It's not a pressure, but I want to do it."

While it could be easy to get carried away, having been including in the game and now on the biggest stage of all in Vegas, the former BAMMA British lightweight champion is fully concentrating on the task at hand with his next fight.

His next opponent, Hooker, is another fighter Diakiese is certain he's going to beat having learned to "use his head" more since his defeat in July. But he insists that doesn't mean the fight is going to be dull.

"What I've learnt about Hooker is that most of the fights that he wins are fights that he should win," he said. "When he steps up and tries to win, he loses all of them. I'm one of them that he's going to lose against.

"I want him to come forward and I want him to put pressure on me because that's when I get my knockouts. It will be fun him coming forward trying to put pressure on me.

"I've had a lot of tough opponents [in training] in the build-up. I've had Dustin Poirier, Santiago Ponzinibbio and Will Brooks who have been putting pressure on me. If anything I've learnt to stay calm under pressure and use my head a bit more.

"I can wrestle all day. So we'll see how the fight plays out but I'm not looking to play at some boring fight or play safe."

Learning to be more in control in fights isn't the only thing he took from his loss to Klose. Having learned to relax more when in the octagon, he's also switched up his training regime in the build-up to big fights.

"I made a big move since my last fight as I've basically been living at ATT [American Top Team martial arts team]," Diakiese said. "I was home for about four weeks and I came back. I've basically just lived there.

"I live in the gym at the moment, it's about moving forward. The sky's the limit."

Diakiese is also looking forward to a more active year in 2018 given the changes he's made in his training and how he prepares.

"I'd fight five or six times but it depends if I'm injury free," he said when asked about his plans for 2018. "It depends on my situation.

"I've changed my diet, I'm lighter, so I've realised I've got to be ready half way there after a fight instead of having four weeks out. Since my last fight I've eaten clean all the way through."

What about fighting on the UFC Fight Night London card on March 18 next year?

"I feel like London does need me on that card," he added. "I'm not being funny but most of the guys in the UK I don't feel like you could put on that card. I want to win to give the fans something to live up to.

"I feel good and I want to keep it this way. When a fight comes I'll take it anytime."

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