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SUCCESS in mixed martial arts is all about experience, talent and hard work. You need a combination of all three to get to the top and, as a relative newcomer to the UFC, I'm concentrating on building up my experience right now. I'm competing against different types of fighters, with different styles and threats, and am gradually becoming more and more comfortable inside the Octagon.

We all saw how James Toney's lack of experience cost him against Randy Couture at the weekend. No matter how talented you may have been in another sport, the cross over to mixed martial arts won't work if you don't have experience in wrestling, grappling and various other disciplines that don't come naturally to a boxer.

We're actually in our final period of training camp right now, which is the punishing conditioning phase.
This is the horrible stuff and the no-rest period.
Things are getting a bit tricky now, as it's all about pushing harder than ever before and reaching an optimum level of fitness.
This morning I did some conditioning work, and this afternoon I did jiu-jitsu rolling. All good fun!

I'M currently in the middle of my training ahead of my next fight on March 31st in North Carolina, USA. I'm fighting Dennis Siver from Germany and know that it's going to be one of the hardest tests of my career to date.

As a result, I'm training and preparing harder than ever. I'm leaving nothing to chance. Such is the nature of mixed martial arts, I'm working on pretty much every aspect of my game on a daily basis.

I work on my Thai-boxing first thing Monday morning, and that means I'll go through pads, sparring, clinch work and other drills. Then I do a weights power circuit, then Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling.

I HAD a little bit of a lay-off over Christmas, but I'm back in the gym now preparing for my next fight - wherever and whenever that may be. I'm currently training six days a week with two sessions per day. That's pretty normal for me in between fights and it's nice to just keep ticking over and stay fit. I know that whenever I get the call with details of my next UFC fight I'll be more than ready for it.

It's all just about waiting for the call now. To be honest, I could be ready to fight next week if the UFC asked me. That's just the way I go about things. I like to stay in decent shape all year round and I like to feel prepared whenever the opportunity does arrive.

Well, here we are - it's fight week. I'm now only a matter of days away from making my UFC debut at UFC 105 on Saturday (November 14) in Manchester.

The main emotion I have all week and on the day of a fight is excitement. That explains my mindset completely. It's a good feeling. I've trained so hard for the previous 10 weeks; the fighting part is actually the easy part. The difficult stuff is getting beaten up in the gym for weeks on end and putting my body through hell. The actual fight itself is just my platform to show the world what I've been working towards.

On the day of the fight, I usually make sure I have a good Oatmeal breakfast with some protein and some fresh fruit. I then spend most of the day just relaxing and chilling out. I never really do too much, apart from maybe have a stretch early on to get the blood pumping around the body. My mood then switches to focused when I get the call to head down to the fight venue.

With two weeks to go before my UFC debut at UFC 105 in Manchester, it's probably a good time to spend a moment looking at my opponent that night. As with all UFC contests, this fight on November 14 is not a one-man show and the guy in the opposite corner is very live and dangerous.

The opponent's name is Aaron Riley and he's been involved in 40 professional mixed martial arts bouts. He's a very experienced veteran of the sport and has scored solid UFC wins over Jorge Gurgel and Shane Nelson. I've got a lot of respect for what Aaron has achieved in his UFC career to date, but he hasn't fought me yet. Nobody knows how he will deal with me.

When I got the call to fight Aaron, I instantly started looking for footage of him and studied his game. I made a quick analysis of what I thought and then I handed the tapes to my coaches to make a more in-depth assessment. They would then break his game down and come up with some kind of game plan for me to work on in preparation.

Ask any UFC newcomer what the biggest challenge is ahead of their UFC debut and they'll probably all say the same thing - coping with the size of the event. As difficult as it is to face a hungry and determined opponent, often the magnitude of the event and the size of the UFC crowd is the biggest obstacle.

After all, a lot of UFC newcomers aren't used to fighting in front of a crowd of between 15,000 and 20,000 people. They usually arrive from small promotional companies and are more accustomed to performing in small halls and local clubs. It is an enormous leap for them when they eventually step into the UFC and start competing in front of arena-sized crowds.

Winning The Ultimate Fighter season nine has had a major effect on both my life and my career as a mixed martial artist. It has given me the opportunity to compete in the UFC at the highest level and has also helped my profile in both Britain and America. Whereas before I could walk down the street and go unnoticed, nowadays people know who I am and recognise me from The Ultimate Fighter.

I sometimes get a few strange looks in the street, which is quite funny. I also go past some people and hear, 'is that him? Is that the guy off The Ultimate Fighter?'.

It's nice to be recognised, as it shows people are watching the sport and are following my career. I never got into mixed martial arts to become a television star, but it feels good to know people appreciate your skills.

This is the moment I've been waiting for since I first started watching my old UFC DVDs, dreaming of one day competing in the Octagon.

I'm now five weeks away from my official UFC debut at UFC 105 in Manchester, and training has kicked into overdrive. I've actually had a 15-week training camp for this fight, which is a little longer than I normally do.

I'm now into my tenth week of training and it feels as though I've been going non-stop since June. The time has just flown by.

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