It was a victory worthy of a little time off, but almost as soon as Marc Diakiese scored a second round knockout of Lukasz Sajewski last Saturday night in Manchester, England, the 23-year-old was back in the gym.
He wasn’t there to get ready for the possibility of a short notice call-up or to brag about his Octagon debut. Instead, the nicest young man to carry around the nickname “Bonecrusher” was teaching the kids’ class. And it was a full house for the UFC’s newest rising star.
“I had a full class today, and it’s a nice feeling to see kids that happy like that,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s like I’ve given them something.”
Diakiese, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who now makes his home in Doncaster and trains with the ASW team in Manchester, did give them something. Those kids got to see that anything and everything is possible with determination and hard work, and that when you put those two items together, last Saturday night is what happens.
So being back in the gym after a big win is no surprise.
“I’m away with family over Christmas, so now it’s just about going back to the gym and focusing on other stuff,” he said. “I’m just relaxing, but doing a bit just to keep in shape.”
In addition to the light work in the gym and teaching, Diakiese is also soaking in the positive notices he received after his win over Sajewski, even if everything hasn’t truly hit him yet.
“I feel like I need someone to fight to re-live it again and go back to it,” he laughs. “It’s not sunk in yet. But it was amazing. I couldn’t think of a better feeling than that.”
It almost went downhill fast, as Diakiese raced out of his corner at the start of the bout, only to be promptly put on the mat by a Sajewski takedown. All of a sudden, the British knockout artist who had ended his last two pre-UFC bouts in a combined 60 seconds was on his back and in danger of being kept there by his opponent. Diakiese wasn’t too concerned.
“The first thing I thought when he took me down was, ‘Oh crap, I rushed in a little bit here,’” he said. “So I was like, okay, it’s the UFC, I know he’s going to be strong, so I didn’t really want to waste energy, I was just waiting to see his next move. I thought, stay calm, relax, and see the next move. I know not many people can hold me down, so I knew that any move that he makes, I’ll just explode back up and go again. I notice he was trying to go for my back, and that’s why I took the half guard and tried to get up. So I wasn’t really worried. I was just making sure I don’t mess up, because obviously the UFC is a different level.”
Apparently so is Marc Diakiese, who got to his feet and proceeded to answer back with a thudding slam of his foe.
“The slam was punishment for trying to get my neck,” Diakiese laughs. “You don’t take my neck like that; I’ll pick you up and slam you.”
Sajewski would secure a second takedown, but Diakiese was back on his feet by the end of the first stanza, and in round two, he lowered the boom. But what may have been most impressive was the way he picked his shots and surgically finished Sajewski, showing off a level of fighting maturity not evident in too many 23-year-olds with less than a dozen pro fights.
“I think it’s just experience and training with different people,” he said. “I do a lot of boxing with boxers, and I know if you’re not patient and you rush, that’s when you get tired with them. I relax and start going for it slowly, because when you rush, that’s when you get clipped. I thought I’d take my time. I know that he’s tired now, and that’s why I started with his body as well. I’d break him down slowly, and that’s what I did.”
And when referee Leon Roberts intervened at the 4:40 mark…
“The moment was amazing,” Diakiese said. “It felt really fun.”
Now it’s off to the next one, which Diakiese expects will be in early 2017. It might be a bit of a wait for him and his loyal and growing fan base, but he also insists it will be worth the wait.
“I have no boring fights and I like to entertain,” he said. “I understand how everything works now and I needed that win, but the next time coming out, it’s going to be a completely different Marc.”