Dana White’s contender series has continued to offer another entry to the UFC for the hottest talent in the world. The best prospects around the globe have been battling it out the last four weeks at the UFC Apex centre in Las Vegas for that much dreamed about contract.
Tomorrow night the UFC Apex hosts a total of ten bouts for its DWCS week five-fight card. The card features contenders from Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Canada, Albania, Poland, Ukraine and Scotland, but who will shine through and impress Dana White and the UFC matchmakers?
I had the pleasure to catch up with one man who is among the action tomorrow night in Scotland’s Chris Duncan, to get his thoughts on his biggest fight to date against Manuel Gaxhja. Chris Duncan has breezed past his opposition since turning to the pro-ranks in 2018, recording seven wins, all by knockout and no defeats.
Interview with Chris Duncan
Firstly Chris, what’s the emotions like in the lead up to such a huge opportunity. From fighting in small arenas in Scotland to now fighting in Las Vegas. It must give you chills. Do you feel any added pressure in this one, or with your mindset are you looking at it as just another fight?
Chris Duncan – “To be honest with the Vegas thing, it’s been a long time coming. It’s been a long process, I have been dieting for ten weeks now. It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but I know when I arrive in Vegas it’s going to come to light. I don’t believe it’s any added stress, there is a lot on the line, but I’ve treated every fight the exact same regardless of the arena or opponent. I’m in the mindset of it’s just another scrap, but hopefully I feel more pressure when I get there. Seeing the UFC staff will be a big thing. I take these things in my stride and tend to shine when the pressure’s on.”
You’ve recently just had your first child, how are you balancing the fight life with fatherhood. Very cliché, but do you feel any added motivation now when training now being a father? How has it impacted your life inside the cage, if so?
Chris Duncan – “Yeah it’s really good having a child. It can pose some difficulties in regards to missing her because I am away five days of the week down in Liverpool. Going home at the weekends gives me that break and keeps me motivated to do her proud because at the end of the day I want her to think I’m her superhero when she grows up. I want her to be proud of me as a father and I take great pride in that.”
It’s been a while since we’ve seen you in there. I know you are a guy who’s always travelling and training constant, but is there any fear of ring rust creeping in for you, or is that not something you believe in?
Chris Duncan – “I don’t believe in ring rust. I believe ring rust is only brought into consideration when somebody has a bad performance. You train, you fight and you put the work in outside of camp to stop that. I am looking forward to getting in there. The good thing is that there will only be a few fans and people in attendance, which will help me zone in when I get inside the cage.”
On the topic of training at different gyms. How beneficial do you feel that is to be getting work in with guys not only in Scotland but in the UK?
Chris Duncan – “I made the educated move to head to Four Corners in Liverpool, training with a heap of good guys and throwing myself into the deep end. I’m not only training but learning, adapting and evolving. I am competing against myself every day, and being in Liverpool and sacrificing the time at home is going to pay dividends at the end of my fight”
Scottish MMA is really on the rise with fighters like yourself at the front of it. We now have guys competing on all the major organisations, whereas several years ago it was a rare occurrence, with the likes of Rob & Calderwood representing. Just give me your thoughts on the progression of MMA in Scotland?
Chris Duncan – “It’s taken a long time for Scottish MMA to rise and come up through the ranks because unfortunately in Scotland, it’s quite creaky. Not many people train together, so It’s good to see people start training together and use Scotland as a roadmap and utilise all the training partners they can to get the best results possible. It’s such a small country, we need to all work together and start attacking the big leagues.”
We are a week or so out from the biggest fight of your life. Tell me what this would mean to you to gain this contract and did you expect it to come so quickly?
Chris Duncan – “If I got this contract it would be a dream come true. When I put my head on the pillow at night that’s what I think about. I want to be a UFC fighter, so it would mean the world if I got the contract, and it’s not if, it’s when. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
How has preparation been ahead of your bout, where have you trained and who’s been your main training partners? I assume you would have preferred this camp at ATT, but the current way of the world restricted that?
Chris Duncan – “The preparation has been fantastic. I have been at Four Corners in Liverpool training with the talent down here and evolving as a fighter. Unfortunately, I was unable to get to American Top Team this time around, but in the future, I’ll get back there. Coming to Four Corners back and forth will be good when I’m in the UK, but being at American Top team is really important, it allows me to network with other fighters, train with similar mindsets and utilise the huge pool of training partners.”
Your opponent in Manuel Gaxhja has an identical record to yourself. However, he’s not fought on a stage as you have. How much do you know about your opponent and what’s your views on the matchup from a stylistic standpoint?
Chris Duncan – “In terms of my opponent, everyone has their pro’s and cons, their good and bad points. Saying that, I have had a look at him and I have established what he’s good at and identified holes in his game, and you know me, and you’ve seen me fight, I am going to go out and dominate this guy from bell to bell. Manuel has some crazy kicks that I will need to watch out for but other than that, It’s going to be complete domination.”
I’m not even going to ask for a prediction, as your resume speaks for itself. We don’t need the judges if it’s a Chris Duncan fight. We know what’s going down, but tell me, with these quick finishes. Do you ever want to go the distance and get them 15-minutes under your belt and some valuable experiences? I will quote you here, I remember years ago you said “I don’t get paid for overtime”. Is that still the mindset?
Chris Duncan – “It would be good to go three-fives or five-fives with somebody, but at the end of the day you said it, You don’t get paid for overtime. I’m in, out, then home for a pizza. At the end of the day when you put me in there, I’m there to go for the finish. I’m here to entertain the fans. It’s a sport and it’s also an entertainment business, so I’m going out there to put a spectacular performance on, show domination and win that UFC contract because at the end of the day this is an apprenticeship for the UFC, there asking you to go out there and put it all on the plate. I’m going out there to show Dana White, Sean Shelby and all those guys that I am made for the UFC.”
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Featured Image Creds to: The Fight Queen Art