Davey Grant is aiming to make up for lost time in the UFC and provide the type of life for his kids they can only dream about.

The Bishop Auckland bantamweight has endured a disastrous start to his UFC career. After finishing runner-up on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2013, his Octagon campaign was put on hold for three years due to injuries.

With two young boys to support, ‘Dangerous’ Davey – who’s ever-present smile fails to reflect his menacing monicker – faced some dark, soul-searching times. But throughout it all he believed in himself and finaly made his second UFC appearance in February, outpointing Marlon Vera in London and finally getting his career going again.

“I just want to give my kids an awesome life. Give them that dream life,” Grant tells FO when asked how he stayed motivated when on the sidelines just as his career was getting going. “I want more boys to have everything and I feel like fighting is the only way for me to do that. This is the only way I’m going to really make it in life.”

He adds: “There were a lot of whispers behind my back when I was out injured, that I would never fight again or that I’d missed my chance. I was aware of that. But I never believed it. I knew I wasn’t finished. I never worked as hard as I did to make it to the UFC to quit on myself and my dreams.

“I wasn’t being stripped of my chance, especially not by injuries. I knew I was going to get back in there. There was never any doubt in my mind. My mantra was always: get fit, get healthy, go fight, do the business.”

Of his beloved boys, Grant admits he’d much rather they kicked a ball for a living than took punches to the face. But ultimately, like all good dads, he’s just hoping to be the right kind of role model and support them financially so they can choose the life they want to pursue.

“I’ve got two little boys. Jay’s seven and Nate’s five. I think they understand a little bit now. They know dad’s a fighter and they know I have to go away to train and they see me on television a little bit. They’re aware something’s going on this week,” he says.

“The eldest one loves football. In fact, I coach his little team, so the whole team will be hoping their coach wins this weekend as well! So I can’t let them down, can I?”

When asked about the prospect of buying the boys boxing gloves, Grant says: “Obviously, I would prefer them to be footballers. You don’t get hurt on the pitch and you earn a lot more money. I would have loved to have been a footballer myself – only I wasn’t any good, so I turned to fighting. But at the end of the day if they want to fight, they can fight.

“You get good discipline for martial arts too. But, actually, I look at fighting like a life skill. I view fighting like swimming. You should be able to fight just in case you have to. Hopefully, you should never have to use it. Just like hopefully you’ll never fall into a pond. But you should have it just in case.

“But I got into fighting first and foremost not for the money. It was because I loved it. And if they love it too, and they want to pursue it, for fun or even a little more seriously, then I’ll support them ike their supporting me this weekend.”

On Saturday night at UFC 204, Grant, 30, faces off against Polish submission whizz Damian Stasiak. And admits he’s aiming for a big performance in order to get another fight in as soon as possible.

“Any fight in your home country is always good but to have it here, in Manchester, where I am based for training is brilliant. I’ve trained hard and prepared right and as long as I got out there and do some MMA, then I’ll be alright. After all, it’s what I do every day. If I knock him out I knock him out. And if I have to got to war for three rounds then I’ll do that.

“I just need to perform well, get my hands raised and helpfully get another fight before the end of the year. I want to stay busy. And I’m hoping 2017 is going to be huge for me.”

* UFC 204: Grant vs. Stasiak features on Saturday’s prelims card on Fox Sports 1 in the US and BT Sport in the UK. Check local listings for start times in your region.