Eastbourne’s Oli Thompson insists he has learned from his previous UFC disappointments as he returns to heavyweight action at the 02 Arena tomorrow (Saturday) night.
Thompson, a former British strongman champion, will clash with ex-UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione on the main card of Bellator 158 in front of 9,000 fight fans at Greenwich, London.
The 36-year-old, known as Spartan, fought twice in the UFC back in 2012, losing both of his contests against Shawn Jordan and Phil De Fries.
In his second outing, against De Fries, he lost via a submission in the second round and was released from the promotion.
Thompson has a mixed martial arts record of 25 fights and 17 wins with seven knockouts and six submissions. Ahead of his promotional debut with Bellator, he said, “This is as excited as I have been for a long while, it will be a special occasion.
“I have competed in big arenas in LA, in Poland and Wembley but Saturday is as big as it gets. I can’t wait for it, I have trained well and I’m ready for for it.”
Mitrione, from Illinois, America, is a mixed martial artist and former American football player. The 37-year-old has a record of 15 fights with 10 wins and nine by knockout.
Thompson, who trains at First Generation Combat and Fitness, in Eastbourne, added, “I know it will be a difficult fight. He is a former footballer and is strong and athletic. He is an experienced opponent but I know what I can do and I have the weapons to hurt him. I know if I can impose myself on him and be the aggressor then I can take him. It will be a great fight on the night I’m sure of that.”
“I have matured as a person and as a fighter. The UFC was a great experience and I’m looking forward to new challenges.”
Thompson is sponsored by FirmBalls limited a local company which organises corporate 5-aside football leagues across the UK as well as corporate networking events.
Director Sam Thomas said, “Oli is a professional athlete local to Eastbourne and it’s great for us, as a sports business, to be able to promote other sports such as mixed martial arts and to support a committed local athlete in Oli.
“We wish him all the best and look forward to cheering him on the night.”
Thompson also thanked Nathan Clear at Auto Upgardes, Tolly Plested at First Generation MMA and Scott Halladay at Performance Fitness.