Once considered one of the UK’s best hopes for UFC gold, John “The Hitman” Hathaway’s promising career was halted abruptly as a crippling illness put him on the shelf for eight long years.

But now, after battling ulcerative colitis – and undergoing a brutal schedule of invasive surgeries – Hathaway is back, and will make his professional MMA return at Oktagon 36 in Frankfurt, Germany on Saturday night, October 15.

Hathaway appeared to be on the fast track to the top of the sport, with the fresh-faced young welterweight scoring notable victories early in his UFC career, including wins over the likes of Rick Story and Diego Sanchez.

But, after compiling a career record of 17-1 (7-1 under the UFC banner), he was brutally knocked out by a spinning elbow from South Korea’s Dong Hyun Kim in Macau.

It was a major blow to Hathaway’s momentum, but in the aftermath of that loss, it transpired that Hathaway was dealing with much more than just a knockout defeat.

Hathaway was suffering with ulcerative colitis, a condition that saw him go under the knife on three separate occasions, including surgery to remove parts of his intestine.

At that point, thoughts of a return to the cage seemed a million miles away. But Hathaway kept his hopes alive and, after tireless hours in the gym at London Shootfighters he rebuilt his body, and his strength, back to pro fighter levels. Now he’s ready to make the walk to the cage once again.

He’ll do so this weekend at Oktagon 36, where a huge crowd at Festhalle in Frankfurt will witness Hathaway’s first fight since that loss to Kim in 2014 as he takes on 11-5-2 Brazilian Andre Ricardo.

After being away for so long, and after everything he’s been through, simply returning to competitive action would be considered by most as a major achievement.

But Hathaway won’t be content simply to return. He’s back to win.