John Hathaway has stormed through England's MMA scene as a teenager, racking up 10 straight wins to start his career. After getting signed by the UFC, he followed up with a hot streak that saw him rack up 7 wins against the likes of Diego Sanchez and Rick Story during his first three years with the organization.
His last fight was a win over John Maguire which continued his steady climb up the welterweight ladder, but unfortunately that fight happened almost two years ago. Hathway had to be sidelined for an extended period with injuries and serious medical issues which have shut down the momentum built when he first entered the UFC.
"Obviously I've had some health issues which I have managed to conquer and get back over, and then it's just been about learning," Hathaway told BloodyElbow.com as he spoke about his time off, "I went back to the gym, got my body back up to being strong and fast, and then kept picking up new techniques."
"I'm not so much worried about ring rust. I come from a gym where we do spar, compete very hard, and train very hard. We've got some great fighters in our gym so I am used to the atmosphere of actually competing."
The common narrative in regards to Japanese and Asian fighters not gaining the same amount of success in the US compared to back home, is that it is a result of having time zone and climate changes after traveling half-way around the world to fight. This weekend, the tables are turned on Hathaway as he's in a similar position fighting Dong Hyun Kim in Asia, but he feels like it really won't play that much of a factor.
"To a certain extent, there will always be a bit of jet-lag, and I am still kinda trying to conquer it, but I should be fine by the weekend so it should be great."
Instead of thinking about potential difficulties of competing after a long layoff and an exhausting trip, Hathaway is simply more excited about the prospect of finally being able to return for a bout which could immediately put him up the title picture.
He understands the ramifications that this comeback fight can do for his career, and he knows he can turn this into his golden ticket.
"Welterweight is a super exciting division, and now it has opened up even more," he said as he spoke about headlining a card during the post-GSP climate, "I think it's a great opportunity, and a great match up. When you're competing against someone like Kim, it's a fight that makes you really want to get up and train really hard, so it's a real motivational fight."
"I am going to use my footwork and my speed to try and stay away from him, and use my striking to counter (Kim's style)."
It's been a rough past couple of years for Hathaway, but now that he has his health issues in check, he's real optimistic about what lies ahead.
"In 2014, I'm just going to get a lot of fights, and a lot of victories."