When promoted right, MMA has an ability to produce truly magical hype that, more often than not, prevails emphatically come fight night. This weekend, UK MMA gets a chance at bringing the magic as Marc Diakiese (8-0) defends his British Londsale lightweight title against his nemesis, Kane Mousah (7-0), at BAMMA 25 at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham.
The champion Diakiese’s last bout in September saw proceedings brought to a halt at only twenty-four seconds, putting away Rick Salvarajah with an enormous overhand right. Looking back on the win that snapped a string of decision victories, Marc believes a thunderous message was sent to the rest of the BAMMA lightweight division.
“I think that knockout made a statement,” Marc opined. “People knew what my ground game was like and know how I can smother opponents with it, and now they know just how hard I can hit too. People may have thought I was a distance fighter due to the times I’ve gone to decision, so I sense it’s made an impact.
“I’m always smart in my approach. I have to be comfortable in something before I attempt to use it in a fight. The shot that landed on Selvarajah had been practiced time and time again. I don’t like taking chances that I’ve not had time to assess. For instance, Jack McGann was a better boxer and was much bigger than me so I knew my best route to victory would be to grind it out.
“Since then I’ve changed gyms and my mentality has changed. Before the move, my approach was to win on points as that’s what my coach had taught me to do. Whereas at ASW, we’re taught to finish fights. Our mentality is different.”
As aforementioned, it’s been awhile since Marc’s last cage encounter. To his preference, the lightweight would have liked to capitalise on momentum sooner. Despite the reluctance, Diakiese feels his time out has only made his talent expand and his arsenal soar.
“I would’ve liked to have fought at least once since the Selvarajah fight,” Marc admitted. “Obviously BAMMA have been trying to push this fight and I don’t blame them, but I want to stay as active as possible.
“It’s been a positive in a way, also. I’ve had so much time to improve. I’ve been boxing three to four times a week and it’s because of that I feel so much more comfortable in everything I go for.”
Being only 8-0 professionally and holding a title that has helped launch multiple UK prospects, the ‘Bonecrusher”s development is arguably one of the quickest rises in recent times and, through the eyes of the beholder, Marc still feels his potential is only just getting started.
“I’ve tried to think about this but I really don’t know,” Diakiese confessed. “I know people are talking about me, saying I’ve come far, but to me I’m still at the very start of my potential. I’m only just starting to get confident.
“I feel so much better in dangerous positions compared to how I used to feel. I’m feeling more and more confident throwing heavy shots with these smaller gloves on, and I wasn’t comfortable doing that earlier on. I’ve got goals to reach and in order to reach them I have to keep taking out opponents in superior fashion.”
Undoubtedly this weekend’s showdown is the most important bout Diakiese has come across. Even with that in mind, Marc seems unfazed about the extra eyes watching and the pressure to deliver on his promises.
“I genuinely am not feeling any pressure going into this fight,” Marc asserted. “I like fighting; this is what I do day in and day out. I think Kane is starting to feel the pressure in all honesty. All that’s changed is that I’m starting to get bored laughing at him now. I’m ready for the fight.
“I’m the most relaxed I’ve ever been. Everything has been done right and there have been no mistakes whatsoever. I’m not going to get complacent. The fight has sold itself, so I’m going to get in that cage and show people why I’m so dangerous.
“I strongly feel like I’m going to get a knockout this weekend. It’s been a shot we’ve been focusing heavily upon and it’s been landing constantly. Everybody will see.”
This is the second time the fight has been scheduled after an injury forced Kane out of action almost eighteen months ago. Since then, both men have evolved. Both men have taken on higher opposition and walked away successful each time. To Marc, the timing is irrelevant. He senses Mousah may have had a better chance of victory last time round. Oozing with confidence, Diakiese feels his stride in is full effect.
“Whether this fight was back in its original slot or this Saturday, it doesn’t really matter to me,” the undefeated combatant stated. “Back when it was originally set, I feel that may have been Kane’s only chance to win. I rely on much more technique now in contrast to previous times. Kane’s made a big mistake picking this fight and I’m only just peaking.
“Back when he first called me out, I don’t believe it was the right time. He hadn’t even debuted on BAMMA yet and was already wanting a shot. He’s always fought bums and has never been tested. It’s the totally wrong time for him to want to fight me. He’s going to be in a lot of trouble and I sense he knows this and is shitting himself. He’s gone quiet, so I’m looking forward to putting him away.
“I’m prepared for whatever he comes at me with,” Marc continued. “Everybody talks about his eleven years of experience in the striking game and I don’t buy it. I’ve seen nothing that’s impressed me and I feel that I’ll have the advantage in that region compared to him. If it goes to the ground, honestly, I will submit him. My ground game has evolved since last September. You’ve seen it with my teammate Scott Askham since he moved to ASW and the exact same thing has happened with me.
“Everything I possess has come on leaps and bounds. I will dominate wherever and when he tires in the second round, he’ll be put away.”
In a fight that packs bad blood of this much magnitude, tensions will be high and emotions are bound to fly. When both men come face-to-face, be it the weigh-in or fight night, sparks may be lit. Psychologically, Marc thinks he’s played his cards well throughout all the back and forth chatter. He feels Kane is in the palm of his hands.
“You know what? I’ll probably shake his hand at the weigh-in,” the ASW battler revealed. “I’m finding it funny right now because I can tell he’s not right. He’s used to bullying people and having people pay attention to what he says and I’m not one of them guys. If he wants respect he’ll have to earn it and I think that’s getting on his nerves. I’m just having fun.”
If the outcome of Saturday night favours Diakiese, the Doncaster man aims to cash in his prospect title and take a shot at the lightweight throne. Whilst feeling the lightweight opportunity is overdue, Marc remains far from complacent. He feels when the opportunity arises, it will be his time.
“I think by now I should’ve had a shot at the BAMMA world title. Damien Lapilus, who beat Jack McGann, is fighting for the title this weekend, whereas I had beaten Jack prior to Damien. It seems a bit unfair to me as I had asked for the shot before Kane opened his mouth again.
“I want the world title after I end Kane. I can’t keep defending this title as I’ll always have more to lose when that step-up is there. I want to move up and challenge the better guys.
“I don’t feel like it’s up to me how far I take this game. As long as I don’t get complacent and keep this workrate going, I’ll be just fine. I have goals I want to achieve. I don’t do this for the name like others do. When I do get that belt I feel like nobody will be able to take it from me. It will only make me work harder and I like to put the work in.
“I’m in the gym before the sun rises while my competition is in bed having their mum make them breakfast. I get in as much as I can and I believe that will be showcased this weekend.”
Find our writer Harry Williams at @Harry_Williams