With the UFC’s global push in recent years there are a lot of fighters who are not only attempting to make a name for themselves inside the Octagon, but to represent their country on the sport’s biggest stage as well. When Nicolas Dalby makes his official promotional debut this Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Alves in Goiania, Brazil, “The Sharpshooter” will be bringing some additional motivation and firepower.
As just the second Danish fighter to ever compete under the UFC banner, the undefeated welterweight will be looking to start a new chapter one of his countrymen recently brought to a close. For years, Martin Kampmann was the only fighter from Denmark trading leather inside the Octagon, but this weekend, Dalby’s run through the 170-pound ranks is set to begin. And he plans to make it one to remember.
The savvy striker is not only determined to mark his arrival in impressive fashion, but confident he will serve as a proud representative of his home nation under the bright lights. That’s been his primary focus since receiving the call from the UFC, and he’s more than up for the challenge of continuing to make his dreams come true.
“A lot went through my mind,” Dalby recalled about receiving the offer to fight in the UFC. “I changed between being overly ecstatic and not really believing it was true. I don’t think it has settled in completely yet. I think that will only happen once I’ve had my first fight.
“It feels so unreal,” he added. “Even though quite a lot of Danish and Scandinavian fighters and fans told me I should be signed soon over the last two years I didn’t really believe that it was me that was going to be the next Dane in the UFC after Martin [Kampmann]. I feel so proud and for some reason I’ve been feeling much stronger about representing Denmark than I ever have before. I just hope I can make the Danish fans proud.”
When Dalby steps into the Octagon for the first time down in Brazil, he will also be carrying a fair amount of expectations along with him. The level of competition in European regions has been experiencing an uptick over recent years, and the 30-year-old Copenhagen representative has been at the forefront of the next wave figured to make a lasting impact.
In addition to building a solid resume on the European circuit, Dalby has also championed small stages around the sport. Nevertheless, he’s learned to take everything outside of fighting in stride because he knows the only thing that matters is getting the job done now that he’s reached the biggest showcase in MMA.
“For this fight the potential expectations haven’t really changed anything for me because I’ve had a really good fight camp and I feel in really good shape both mentally and physically,” Dalby said. “My own motivation to get as ready as possible for the biggest fight of my life has been the key factor in the preparations.
“My record, as unblemished as it is, is just a number. It doesn’t add to or subtract from my skills when I’m in the Octagon. Looking backwards at my record doesn’t do anything for me now or in the future in regards to what I can and can’t do. And although it’s cool to be undefeated, I am also very much aware of the fact that it’s just a number and I’ll eventually lose someday. Not that I hope it will happen, but realistically speaking that will happen one day. I’m saying that I do cherish it, but once the doors to the Octagon close…it doesn’t mean anything. Then it’s just me and my opponent.”
In addition to Dalby preparing himself on all fronts for the unique experience of competing for the first time under the UFC banner, there will also be the unique challenge of facing a Brazilian fighter on their native soil. He is set to square off with Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos on the preliminary portion of the card and Dalby’s expectations are that their scrap will set things off right in Goiania.
“It’s going to be a great experience,” Dalby exclaimed. “If I can overcome the probably slightly negative response from the crowd towards me because I’m fighting a Brazilian in Brazil, anything else will be child’s play. I’ve always been amazed by the Brazilian crowds, so I’m sure it’s going to be interesting and a fun ride.
“I think it’s a great matchup for both of us. We are both strikers that is a good foundation for an entertaining fight. I never ever fight on emotion. I may be more or less emotional in the build up and right until before the fight starts, but from the moment the referee yells ‘fight’ I strive to just rely on reflexes and muscle memory. That’s how I fight best. It’s the only way I fight.”
While Dalby’s initial focus will be on making his first venture into the UFC a successful one, he’s also entering what is arguably the most competitive division under the UFC banner. The welterweight collective is a shark tank of proven talent, where it takes more than just skill alone to find success and consistency.
Although he’s going to be the newest face to join the fold, Dalby is enthusiastic about joining the ranks with some of the best fighters in the sport today.
“It’s a really exciting weight class and it’s going to be fun to try and see if I can hang with or even win over the best MMA fighters in the world. I really truly mean that. And being on the same fight card as Condit and Alves is a huge honor. I’ve been watching their fights for many years.
“That said, all I can really do is take things step by step. But it would sure be awesome to make a big statement when taking my first step into the UFC.”