“Bonecrusher” overcame a slow start in his Octagon debut before
adding to his streak of finishes at the expense of Lukasz
Sajewski at UFC 204 on Oct. 8 in Manchester, England. Diakiese
followed it with a unanimous decision over Frankie
Perez at UFC Fight Night 102 in December, but he was far from
satisfied when he watched his performance. A month later, the
23-year-old walked through the doors at
American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, for the first
“Going into the fight I was classed as one of the biggest prospects
in the sport, but when I looked back at the footage, it wasn’t me,”
Diakiese told Sherdog.com. “When I look at my performances, I want
to see a future world champion. There weren’t enough bodies in the
places that I used to train in. It felt like the right moment for
me to make a change.
“If I want to make it big in the UFC, I have to make sure I’m
training at the highest level possible,” he added. “That’s why I
decided to go to American Top Team. The move made me realize that
there was no way I could get to where I want to be if I stayed in
the UK. The training is just not on the same level. For me to
prepare myself in the best way possible and to get to that elite
level, I need to be here.”
Changing gyms can be touchy. The strong relationships that are
forged between fighters and coaches are often frayed when it comes
to parting ways, but Diakiese did not believe he was getting
results equal to the effort he was putting into his MMA career.
With an abundance of coaches under the same roof at American Top
Team, Diakiese’s days of uncomfortable commutes are a thing of the
past. Given the prestige of the Florida gym, there is no shortage
of high-level training partners.
“If you need to work on your wrestling over here, you can train
with elite wrestlers,” he said. “The same thing goes for the
striking; there’s no trouble finding certain styles. There are
plenty of southpaws, there are kickboxers, boxers, karate guys. You
name it, they have it. When you’re striking, you have a striking
coach. When you’re wrestling, you have a wrestling coach. They
guide you through every session and will highlight everything that
you’re doing wrong.
“Back in the UK, your striking coach is your wrestling coach,”
Diakiese added. “In a lot of cases, he’s probably your jiu-jitsu
coach, too. Here, you have everything under one roof, and you have
experts in each discipline to learn from. There’s no way one coach
could put in the same amount of work as all of those coaches
Diakiese made some major sacrifices to prepare for his upcoming
clash with Finland’s Teemu
UFC Fight Night 107 this Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.
Since he left the UK, his infant daughter has begun to crawl and
stand on her own -- definitive moments for parents. Once-silly
holidays like Valentine’s Day have taken on new meaning in the
absence of his partner. Although the circumstances are difficult at
times, Diakiese finds comfort in knowing everything has been geared
toward moving forward professionally. His off days are spent
watching teammates spar or getting massages to keep his body
functioning at its optimum levels. Despite the friendships he has
developed in Florida, Diakiese sees the competition between the
athletes at American Top Team as one of the driving forces behind
the gym’s success.
“Everything is just so competitive,” he said. “Even strength and
conditioning class is competitive. We could have four guys doing
sprints, and none of us want to be beaten. That carries over to
sparring, too, and I like that kind of intensity. After training
with guys that I know are high-level, I know that I’m on that
While the competitive nature of the gym demands the most out of
him, Diakiese cited some moments that made him feel as though he
had impressed his new stablemates.
“I’ve had people like Hector
Lombard ask me to spar, so that was a big deal for me,” he
said. “It made me feel like a ninja when he asked me. I’ve had
Alves watch me spar and tell me that I looked sharp. That was
pretty cool, too. They call me ‘Bruce Lee Ninja’ in the gym. I feel
like I can be very loose here, and I’m learning so many different
kicking techniques from the kickboxers. I’ve been trying a lot of
new things in sparring, like using the right techniques when I’m
sparring. Every time I spar, there is a group of guys standing
alongside the mats watching me, so I guess that’s a good sign.”
Diakiese intends to prepare for future fights at American Top Team.
He plans to stay sharp by grappling, training his taekwondo and
focusing on conditioning once he returns to the UK before flying
back to Florida “to put everything together” eight weeks before he
competes. He hopes to show new wrinkles against Packalen.
“I’m expecting to see Marc
Diakiese, future world champion, in London,” Diakiese said.
“I’ve put in the work with guys who have been at the elite level.
If I’m performing well against them, why shouldn’t I perform like
that when I fight? This guy looks like the type that hates my
style. I feel like I can be free in there with him and throw
whatever I want at him. I know he’s going to be looking for a quick
takedown; that’s what I’m expecting anyway.
“I’ve got the guy worried,” he added. “I think he’s scared because
he watches every single Instagram story I post. As soon as I
figured out that he was watching them every day, I thought, ‘I like
that. Keep viewing.’ I think he considers himself a good grappler,
but with the training that I’m getting out here, I can’t see him
posing much of threat.”