THE BLOG

My beginning

31/12/2013 15:29 GMT | Updated 01/03/2014 10:59 GMT

When I was 21 I had never competed in any kind of martial art.

In fact the most athletic thing I had done was play for my school basketball team and to put it into context, in England it's the sport for those that couldn't play for the football or rugby team. And frankly those two sports are played outside and I just don't do the cold!

I came across mixed martial arts (MMA) when a former colleague Jack Mason introduced me to the sport and it changed my life.

The UFC is the world's premier MMA organisation and today, at 25, I stand here in front of you (well sitting behind my computer screen typing away) as a proud employee, shaping my career in the UFC's middleweight division.

The road to the UFC was shorter than I thought it would be it wasn't easy but I was fully committed to achieving my goals. I streamlined my life and made it the most important thing to me. I left a lot behind - including my job, my home and my girlfriend at the time. But I had got to a stage in my life where I had found my passion, I knew that MMA was all I wanted to do. I was working for a good company as a marketing account executive, and I had great career ahead of me, but I wanted to be in the UFC.

I made the decision to pretty much move into my gym - so I could sleep there, eat there and breathe pure MMA. It was the only way I could see myself ever reaching my potential. I have to say lots of people thought I was crazy. I was only 1-0 as a professional at the time and the idea of making it to the UFC was ludicrous to some, but I believed in myself and knew if I gave everything I would get there.

My big break came when I was chosen to compete in The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC's reality show. I spent eight weeks living in a house with other athletes, training and competing under the watchful eye of Chael Sonnen all to get a contract with the UFC. It was tough, but a fantastic experience and it made me even more determined to be the best athlete I could be.

I got that contract and less than a year later and I've won both my bouts since joining the UFC - including winning Fight of the Night bonus at UFC Manchester in October this year. To win in front of home fans was an incredible experience and it's one that I hope to repeat.

I will get the chance to do just that in March against Mats Nilsson in London. UFC Fight Night London 2014 takes place at the O2 on 8 March and I can't wait to get into the Octagon again in front of UK fans. The support I got in Manchester was amazing and I know the London crowd will be just as loud!

The hard work starts now. I've already started my fight camp, working on all aspects of my MMA game and making sure I'm at my physical best when I enter the Octagon. MMA is one of the most demanding sports on your body out there, and the level of fitness you need to have is incredible. To be a UFC athlete you have to be completely dedicated to your training and focused on reaching your goals.

When I look back to me at 21, it's amazing to think how far I've come and how hard I've worked to get here. What you believe you can achieve.