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Marc Diakiese of The Democratic Republic of Congo reacts after his lightweight fight against Viacheslav Borshchev of Russia during the UFC Fight Night event at Nationwide Arena on March 26, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

Marc Diakiese Becoming A Professional

Returning to fight in London for the third time, Marc Diakiese has his eyes set on the UFC lightweight Top 15 if he can get past UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Aspinall opponent Damir Hadžović.

After starting his UFC career on a three-fight win streak, the Congo native currently holds a 6-5 record in the promotion. Despite the inconsistent results, “Bonecrusher” isn’t deterred from his goal of becoming the best lightweight in the world.

Part of this inconsistency was due in large part from the COVID-19 pandemic that made competing regularly quite difficult. Amidst numerous training and travel restrictions that directly impact an athlete’s life, Diakiese couldn’t step into the Octagon as often, or as prepared, as he’d like.

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Since returning to his optimal training regimen, it’s time for Diakiese to make his push towards the lightweight rankings. The first step: finishing Hadžović quickly.

“I feel like I was not as active because of [COVID-19],” Diakiese said. “But now, obviously, got things rolling again so I’d like to be more active. Honestly, I’m trying to put this guy out quick so I can try to get on [the UFC Paris] card.”

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In hopes of getting that result, “Bonecrusher” made a mental switch. Before, Diakiese entered bouts with no clear-cut direction for where he wanted the fight to go and adapting to how his opponent was fighting.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18:  Marc Diakiese of the Congo celebrates his knockout victory over Teemu Packalen of Finland in their lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at The O2 arena on March 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Josh Hedges/

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18: Marc Diakiese of the Congo celebrates his knockout victory over Teemu Packalen of Finland in their lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at The O2 arena on March 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


This time, Diakiese is taking a more professional approach. Diligently figuring out the perfect gameplan that suits this matchup, he hopes to find the holes in Hadžović’s game that he can exploit on fight night.

“I’ve always been very strict with my diet, my sleep and everything else, but I feel like I’m more professional,” Diakiese said. “I’m well-rounded now, I have gameplans now. Before, I would go in blind, where now I’m a professional, I have the right people I need to have around so I can make that progress.”

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The progress starts by getting more fighting experience, in general. The 29-year-old began training mixed martial arts at 18 and has since only competed in 20 MMA bouts. But that’s it. No prolific collegiate wrestling career, no extensive kickboxing record like middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who competed in upwards of 80 kickboxing fights before joining the UFC. With only MMA to his name, Diakiese hopes to fight often enough to catch up to the experience of his veteran opponents.

Last Time In London | March 2022 Flashback
Last Time In London | March 2022 Flashback
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“These guys, like [Rafael Fiziev], have over 200 something Thai fights,” Diakiese said of his UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2 opponent. “I never had that. I started training when I was 18. Before that, I didn’t train or anything. I feel like you have to pay your price in this game. I said that to my last opponent, as well, like, he never wrestled. He tried to come and fight me, you’re going to pay your price. I’ve paid my prices and I’m ready for my turn to start climbing up.”

A win this weekend in London will give Diakiese his first pair of back-to-back wins since 2019, which he believes will earn him a number by his name.

“I honestly feel ready [to challenge top lightweights],” Diakiese said. “I feel I should get Top 15 after this. At least Top 15, and then start climbing up. If you look at the guys I’ve fought, Dan Hooker, Fiziev is now seventh in the ranks. Me fighting them, I feel like I was inexperienced, where now I’ve got enough experience for it to be my turn to start climbing up.”

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Eager to start the next chapter of his career, there’s no better place to start the climb than in front of home country fans at The O2 Arena. Fighting in London twice before, Diakiese performed well, earning a first-round knockout victory against Teemu Packalén and a unanimous decision win over Joseph Duffy.

“I’m undefeated here,” Diakiese said. “It’s a home crowd and I like putting on a show for the crowd because when I put on a show, everybody remembers it.

“I will finish him. I can’t tell you how, but I know I will finish him.”

UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Aspinall took place live from the at The O2 Arena in London on Saturday, July 23, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass