This weekend, when Israel Adesanya strolls into the Toyota Center in Houston, he won’t be alone. Not only is Izzy rolling with his usual team of coaches, but he’d brought along a pair of training partners who are both fighting on the card. While some may be familiar with Carlos Ulberg, who fought on Contender Series and has already made his debut, fewer will be familiar with the man they simply call Blood Diamond.
If you’re doing a cursory Tapology search, it may shock you to see a fighter debuting in the UFC at just 3-0, and doing so without coming through Contender Series, Looking for a Fight, or The Ultimate Fighter. While he’s not long in the tooth in the MMA world, his experience in kickboxing gives him plenty of confidence. And if you’re not quite confident that he’s ready for the big time, he’s got a message for you.
“Wait and see – that’s all I can say,” Blood Diamond stated plainly. “I don’t have much to say really. I just have to show up.”
That mentality really encapsulates what makes Blood Diamond special. He’s not particularly showy or boastful – he just believes in himself and is ready to get you to believe in him too.
“It’s important for me to get that first fight in and non-believers will start believing and jump on to that Blood Diamond bandwagon,” he said. “Right now, it’s just a matter of giving me a chance to show what I’ve got and shine.”
Of course those non-believers always harp on the same thing when it comes to converted kickboxers: the grappling game. When asked about that, Diamond points back to his very first MMA coach for the mentality that he brings to that side of things.
“When I first started training MMA, one of my first coaches was Colin Oyama. He told me ‘you don’t need to be the best wrestler or the best jiu jitsu fighter – all the fights start on your feet,” Blood Diamond said. “You just need to be real efficient in what you’re doing’. So that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Now, that’s not to say that he hasn’t been drilling his takedown defense hard. After all, he knows exactly what people are planning to do against him. Still, he feels that the time he’s put in helps him feel like he belongs in there already.
“Of course, I know everybody is going to want to take me down, that’s a no-brainer,” he said. “But I’ve put so much work into my art, my craft, mentally, I do feel comfortable.”
Blood Diamond will get a chance to shine at UFC 271’s prelims when he faces Jeremiah Wells. Those prelims get started at 6pm EST this Saturday on ESPN+.
You can hear the entire audio of this interview at 2:01.