There’ll be some exciting British interest when Fedor Emelianenko returns to the ring tomorrow night, as British prospect Jack McGann features on the Eurasia Fight Nights 50 card in St Petersburg, aiming to get his career aspirations back on track.
The 23-year-old steps into the lion’s den to take on local prospect Abdula Dadaev in Russia, but speaking to FO yesterday, shortly after collecting his visa and en route to the airport, the Wolfslair prodigy promised big things in 2016 – starting tomorrow night.
‘The Pilgrim’ will go head-to-head with Dadev for the first time on the scales today, but insists despite facing the home town boy he’ll be the one dictating the pace and dropping bombs when the bell sounds for the opening round.
“All I know about him is he lost his first two fights, but has won the last six. He fancies himself as a striker, which suits me, so I’m expecting this to be an exciting fight – while it lasts,” McGann said.
“He’s from St Petersburg, so he’s the home boy and no doubt the crowd will be with him. But that makes no difference to me. Nobody has bigger expectations about my career than me and taking fights like this, overseas and in other fighter’s backyard, is all aimed at upping my experience.”
McGann, now 9-2, endured a rollercoaster 2015. After starting his career with seven straight wins he suffered his first defeat in March, got back on track with two knockouts over the summer, but lost for a second time in November. Yet he insists it was all a learning curve, and he knows exactly what went wrong.
“Last year was a bit of a mess to be honest, camps starting too early, fights getting moved from one date to the next. I fought four times but I felt like I was in camp for the entire year. In the end, I burnt myself out,” he concedes.
“But I’ve learnt from it. My team have learnt from it and this year is a fresh start, starting out in Russia. Again, it’s another live opponent with a strong record which I believe speaks volumes about where my aspirations lie. Nobody has ever handed me anything, I’m fighting good opponents with one goal: to become the best fighter I can be.”
The fact tomorrow’s night’s fight card is also available live on UFC Fight Pass to a global audience – including the UFC top brass, of course – was also an opportunity McGann admits he couldn’t afford to miss.
“To be fighting on a card headlined by a legend like Fedor, which is available live worldwide, made this fight so much more attractive. I could have fought last week on a small show in the North of England, but this was an opportunity that could have a huge impact on my career. After all, you never know who may be watching tomorrow.”
McGann adds: “I expect this lad to come flying at me, which is fine, that’s what I love most. But as always I’ll be looking to get him out of there as quickly as possible. He may have the fans behind him in the arena, but they’re not in there with him.”
McGann, who also has a BAMMA 26 date in the diary – when he’ll face former UFC fighter Paul Redmond – in September, has been sparring four-time world title challenger Martin Murray to sharpen up for his Russian trip. And after sharing a boxing ring with one of the UK’s leading super-middleweight contenders, he’s certainly not ruling out a clean KO tomorrow.
With eight KO’s in his nine stoppage victories already, McGann finished: “It was great to share a ring with a boxer at the level of Martin Murray, truly world class. And I took an awful lot of confidence from the rounds we did together, which I’ve packed in my case for this trip! Regardless of how noisy the crowd is or how fierce the reception, I’m going to unload from the first bell and we’ll just have to see if this lad can take it.
“Last year is behind me now. I’ve moved on and matured a lot from those experiences. Now it’s my time to shine and I can’t think of many bigger stages than a Fedor undercard to show the world what Jack McGann is truly all about.”
UFC Fight Pass subscribers can watch the entire EFN 50 card live on Friday June 17th (check local listings for start times).