Jimi Manuwa has long campaigned for a fight against Glover Teixeira. Unfortunately for him, that matchup hasn’t been forthcoming and Manuwa is clearly frustrated at his peers at 205lbs. FO’s Michael Owens spoke to the light heavyweight ahead of his rematch against Jan Blachowicz at UFC London on March 17th.

So how many fighters turned down the opportunity to fight you ahead of UFC London?

Three. Glover Teixeira, Shogun [Mauricio Rua], and OSP [Ovince Saint-Preux] turned me down also.

Who did you want to fight most from those three?

Glover. I really wanted to fight Glover and I thought that was the fight to make going by the rankings. He’s number three, I’m number four so I thought it would be a great fight to make, but he didn’t want any part of it. He didn’t want any part of it last year as well! I wouldn’t want to say he’s scared or anything, but it seems like he doesn’t want to fight me. He’d rather fight someone lower in the rankings.

Last year when he turned down the fight against me, he fought Jared Cannonier who is ranked outside of the top 15 and he’s just fought number seven [Misha Cirkunov] so I don’t really know what’s going on with him. He beat number seven and is now expecting a title shot. I just have to now concentrate on my next opponent instead.

The UFC offered you a fight against a higher-ranked opponent in Teixeira and he turns it down. How do you process that as a fighter?

I’m in this sport to go forward and I have never turned down a fight in my life unless I’m injured. As a martial artist, you should be wanting to get to the top. I don’t pick fights and you shouldn’t be scared enough to want to cherrypick your opponents. It’s sad to see a fighter turn down an opponent – whoever it is.

Can you see why the other two fighters turned you down?

I’m ranked number four in the UFC. Why wouldn’t they want to fight me and try take my spot? I don’t understand it. With Teixeira, it’s not as if he’s next in line for the title shot. What’s his plan? Is he going to sit things out and hope that someone gets injured? Even in my last fight, I didn’t have to fight Volkan Oezdemir. He was an unknown fighter and if I were to have sat out, I probably would have had the next title shot, but I didn’t. I took the fight and that’s what we’re here to do — fight.

With all that said, are you as fired up by the challenge of Jan Blachowicz?

I’m always fired up. At the end of the day, you’re in there against another man who is trained and prepared to beat you. I’m 100% fired up for this fight. He’s the only fighter I’ve ever been to a decision with and I plan to wipe him up this time around.

Were you carrying an injury against Blachowicz in your first fight?

I had just returned from knee surgery when I fought him, but I don’t think that’s got anything to do with the performance. I think it was his style of fighting – he was running scared the whole time so I had to constantly chase him and I won the decision.

Are you expecting Blachowicz to fight differently this time around?

I expect him to run. Again. But my footwork and boxing have got a lot better since we last fought. I fully expect a knockout this time.

Last time we spoke you had resumed training straight after fighting an opponent. Was that the same after the Oezdemir fight?

I’ve kept up my training after my last fight. I want to redeem myself and I want to get back in the cage and get another win. But it was so hard getting a fight booked with no one wanting to fight me. I was gunning after Teixeira after he lost to [Alexander] Gustafsson. We had both just lost, we’re ranked one place apart so let’s get it on. But he wanted no part of it. I asked for other fighters in the top 10 and no one came through so when I knew I didn’t have a fight and the London card was booked for March, I took November and December off.

I indulged in lots of drinking, going out, pizzas, burgers, everything. I had a really good Christmas, spending time at home with the kids and I enjoyed life a little bit throughout the Christmas period. That’s something I haven’t done for the last few years as I’ve always been in camp over Christmas. I started training again on January 1st… Actually, no, it was January 2nd as I went out on New Year’s Eve. I was recovering…


Tickets to UFC FIGHT NIGHT® LONDON go on general sale on Friday, February 2 via AXS and Ticketmaster