UFC lightweight Marc Diakiese knows all about the boredom and the sacrifice that goes hand-in-hand with training camp and, moreover, his job.
A necessary evil, boredom and sacrifice are, at this point, his two closest friends. They are also friends forced upon him, the kind who are with him on a daily basis, linger when he wants to be left alone and always provide a reminder of what he is missing and what is to come.
Diakiese has sacrificed and been bored for seven weeks in Florida in preparation for a fight this Friday (July 7) against Drakkar Klose at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale. Mind on nothing but the fight, he transitioned from human being to fighter, which is to say trained, dieted and did little else, and then ventured to Vegas, the city in which he will compete, roughly a week ago.
For a man born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, only to then move to Doncaster, England, at the age of twelve, it has been quite the journey.
“The camps out here are great,” he said. “Last time I came it was good, but this time was even better. My coach paid a lot more attention to me, so I learned a lot more than I did last time. I think I’m going to show that on Friday night.
“I’ve made a lot of improvements and corrected a lot of stuff I wasn’t doing right before. I’m also sparring some really experienced guys now.
“People say I can’t wrestle, but my wrestling is coming along a lot. Everything else has been going great. I’ve basically been working on improving myself in all areas.”
While cooped up in Florida, Diakiese would, on a daily basis, look to whittle away downtime between training sessions. He’d watch movies, he’d go for walks, he’d visit restaurants, and some days, when he was feeling really brave, he’d even watch fight footage of his next opponent and begrudgingly make notes.
“I’ve watched all his fights, but they were quite boring to watch,” he said. “So what I did was I watched his debut over and over and just made notes. He does the same things, and the same things wrong, in every fight he has. There’s a pattern he follows. When he does those things against me, that’s when he is going to get knocked out.”
Diakiese is no stranger to exposing the limitations of opponents with a knockout punch – often early. Indeed, five of his twelve career wins have come via knockout in the first round, and last time out, in March, Diakiese made quite the splash with a 30-second demolition of overmatched Finn Teemu Packalén. It was highlight reel stuff; the kind of knockout that quickly finds its way on to social media and travels around the world. It spoke to his potential. It separated him from the pack.
But then, of course, the backlash begins. In this instance, the knock on Diakiese is that a lot of his hype, which builds and builds, is being gathered while he gorges on overmatch opposition.
It’s an accusation that amuses him. To counter, he points to fights he had pre-UFC as evidence of a desire to test himself against other ambitious and undefeated fighters. He then turns the spotlight on someone like Drakkar Klose; someone who, he says, has fought a series of no-hopers so far in his MMA career.
“When I came to the UFC, I didn’t take easy fights,” said Diakiese. “If you look at my record before I got here, I took on three undefeated guys. I know what it takes. I’ve been an underdog a couple of times.
“Drakkar is going to come forward and be confident because he’s undefeated, but he’ll quickly learn I’m the real deal and I come to fight.
“It’s hard to read too much into his strengths because the opponents he has fought are really not good. They’re not as strong as me. If he tries the same things with me, I’ll dunk him on his head. I don’t think he will realise how strong I am until I get hold of him. It should be a fun fight.”
Diakiese, 24, will argue a lot can be gleaned from the promotions on which a fighter has previously appeared and Klose, before entering the UFC, had competed for Duel for Domination, World Fighting Federation, Rage in the Cage and Resurrection Fighting Alliance. Hardly the cream of the crop, Klose is nonetheless 1-0 in the UFC now, having defeated fellow newcomer Devin Powell via unanimous decision in January, and is, like Diakiese, yet to suffer any kind of defeat in his MMA career.
Not that this is of any concern to ‘Bonecrusher’. He sees the Michigan native only as an addition to his highlight reel and another lightweight against whom he can make an impression, make some noise and make some extra bonus money.
“It seems like a short fight in my head – very short,” Diakiese said. “I know when I feel it and I feel it’s coming. The way I punch and the way I move, I just know he’s going to be in trouble.
“I see it ending early. He’ll try and wrestle and I’ll be happy to wrestle with him. I’ll then push hard in the second round and know he won’t be able to live with my pace. He won’t keep up with me.
“I’d like to do it early so I can get out again. I want to keep fighting all the time. If I stop them all inside a round, I’ll be able to stay busy.”
The great thing about ending a fight early is it quickly puts a stop to everything and returns a machine back to a human state. Diakiese, having been through the process, knows this better than most. He also knows that come Friday night he’ll be free to eat and drink whatever he wants, as well as go wherever he wants.
Best of all, he knows he’ll never again have to watch footage of “boring” Drakkar Klose.
“Last time I came to Vegas I went to this burger place and had this really good burger, so I might go looking for it again after this fight,” he said. “I’ll get a burger and a milkshake and then fly home the next day.
“The next time I’m back here I should really come for a food camp instead of a fight camp.”
The sacrifice has been tough. Marc Diakiese has never been hungrier.
*** Watch Marc Diakiese in action at The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Johnson vs. Gaethje live on BT Sport on Sunday 9th July from 2am BST or catch the Early Prelims exclusively on UFC Fight Pass from 12am BST on Saturday night ***