Mike Wilkinson is set to take the next step in his UFC journey when he faces Finland’s Makwan Amirkhani at Fight Night London.
Wilkinson, who trains in Tyldesley and Atherton, hasn’t fought in more than a year.
But the British Featherweight remains confident of gaining victory in what is set to be an exciting home contest at the O2 Arena in London.
The 28-year-old said: “To fight on home soil is a dream come true.
“I’ve got a lot of family and friends going down there.
“It’s hard when we are abroad because, with work commitments, they obviously struggle to get to them.
“But because it’s in London and only two hours on the train, I’ve got quite a few coming down and I’m looking forward to fighting in front of them.”
Wilkinson has a strong sporting background in the area, after formerly playing rugby league in the junior ranks at Salford and Leigh before switching to mixed-martial arts.
Ahead of the clash against the promising Finnish fighter, who has won both of his UFC fights so far, the Brit is feeling good following an intensive training regime. The 5ft8 fighter said: “This will be the biggest crowd I’ve ever fought in front of.
“Us British fans, we love a good scrap and I intend to put on a show.
“I got my weight down early on, the intensity of the training has been quite high, and in the build-up to the fight I’ll let my body heal so I’m 100 per cent on the night.”
Fellow North West fighter Michael Bisping tops the bill at the 02.
Wilkinson hopes Bisping will be a success as he eyes a future middleweight title shot, after an unwelcome encounter with his opponent Anderson Silva, one of the competition’s superstars.
He said: “I’ll be rooting for Michael Bisping. I’ve no time for Silva.
“I was in Brazil and he blanked me – I fought over there in 2013 and I was going into the lift and I said, ‘hello’ and he looked through me like I was invisible.”
His main focus, of course, is on his own fight against Amirkhani – a man who has notched two first-round finishes in both of his UFC contests to date.
Watch Mike Wilkinson in action at UFC Fight Night: Silva vs. Bisping on Saturday Feb 27, live on UFC Fight Pass.