LONDON – British welterweight Danny Roberts returns to action on home soil at UFC-London in a relaxed, positive mood as he prepares to right the ship after a patchy run of form.
And the Brit says he is already feeling the positive energy from being in familiar territory.
“It feels amazing,” Roberts said. “It feels good to be back and obviously with the whole MMA scene and how big it is now over in the U.K. and how much they really enjoy it, it’s just really nice to be a part of it and be back.”
Roberts (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) will step into the octagon for the sixth time when he takes on Swedish prospect Oliver Enkamp (7-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) on the UFC Fight Night 127 preliminary card at The O2 in London. The entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass.
It’s a level of experience that has him feeling comfortable in his surroundings which, he says, can take some time to adjust to when you’re relatively new to the UFC like his opponent.
“I think for most athletes coming into this sport and into this game, there’s a difference between MMA and the UFC, in the sense of just the stature and the platform,” he said. “There’s a lot of things you have to get used to. There’s a lot of things they don’t teach you. There’s no schooling on certain things. It’s been a road, but at the same time, I’m well and truly comfortable now.”
Despite feeling at home inside the octagon, the UFC’s arena of combat has proved a tough mistress for the Brit, who has found himself in a host of entertaining, back-and-forth battles in his recent career. It’s seen him experience contrasting fortunes, too. Each of his last three contests finished by knockout, but the Liverpool-born welterweight only came out victorious on one of those three occasions.
When asked if recent results gave him pause to consider his all-action fighting style, Roberts said it’s more a case of evolution over revolution, fine-tuning his existing skills rather than making wholesale changes.
“In certain ways and certain areas, definitely (I look to make improvements),” Roberts said. “But at the same time we try to be critical about what has gone on in my career, and obviously since I’ve been in the UFC. I still put it down to mistakes. There have been fights that I was winning, then what has happened has happened. It’s the fight game. The best of us have those losses and take those shots sometimes.
“So stylistically, no, there isn’t much I’ve had to change or tailor, but other than it’s just being sharp and having that mental eye.”
His recent KO losses, albeit in competitive showings, have set Roberts back on his quest to climb the welterweight ladder, and he admits the setbacks have been a source of frustration. But rather than allowing it to fester and demoralise him, he’s trying to turn a negative into a positive by taking the emotion of his recent defeats and using it as motivation in his preparation for Saturday’s clash with Enkamp at The O2.
“The frustration fuels the fire and you let it motivate you,” he said. “It’s good, you need to have it there. So a week or two of feeling a little bit down in the trenches – it did me well. It’s something I hold and I take through my next fight camp. It helps motivate me on the days when I’m tired getting up out of bed and I need that extra push. It’s good.”
And as he heads into his U.K. return, Roberts says he hopes his performances will inspire the fans, simply because they’re no different from him.
“I’m a kid that came from nothing,” he said. “I am the same as 99.9 percent of the people watching this right now and are going to be tuning in on Saturday night. So I represent the people, I am about the people, and I want to be able to go out there and prove that dreams can come true with a bit of hard work and perseverance.”
And he says to expect yet another Danny Roberts fight to end in a knockout this weekend. But this time he’s making sure it’s him ending up with his hand raised in victory.
“I close my eyes every night before I go to bed, and every time I’ve closed my eyes I’ve seen a finish,” he said. “So that’s the only way it’s gonna happen.”