It’s a cold afternoon in Sweden but Jimi Manuwa is in fine form. After a stunning second round knock out victory over Ovince St. Preux, it’s fair to say that Manuwa is fired up about his next challenge. Returning to the Octagon at UFC London to face number 9 ranked Corey Anderson, Manuwa has just completed a sparring session with previous opponent Alexander Gustafsson, a point which he is keen to address.
“We’ve sparred so much now and our previous fight is in the past,” Manuwa told BloodyElbow.com. “I’m here for learning, he’s here for learning and we’re here to make each other better.”
Recent reports had Manuwa being keen to fight higher ranked opponents. Whilst Anderson does pose a threat of sorts, it’s clear that Manuwa is a little annoyed by the clever fight engineering employed by some of his light-heavyweight peers.
“We asked for Glover Teixeira, we signed to fight him. I thought it was a perfect fight for me and I could knock him out. The card we were originally supposed to fight on, scheduled for 21 January, was scrapped. I then said I would fight him a week later in Denver. I don’t think Teixeira wanted the fight or he would have pushed for it, we were pushing for it and he is now fighting, Jared Cannonier, someone who is not even in the top 15.”
Before his free agency occurred, Manuwa also expressed interest in facing Ryan Bader after seeing an opportunity to fight a higher ranked opponent. His request was denied by the UFC. “I was told this was a no go.”
“I asked the UFC to give me Shogun, a fight fans would definitely want to see. It would be a stand up war. The UFC came back to me and said Shogun said ‘no’. I was like ‘what the f—k? Where are all the warriors? Where is everyone?’”
Anderson, who is coming off a TKO win over Sean O'Connell, has thankfully answered the call. Whilst Manuwa is pleased to be fighting in his hometown even against a lower ranked opponent, it’s clear he’ll be keen to show his peers of his title aspirations in emphatic fashion.
“He has got an arsenal of firepower coming his way that no one will be able to stop,” he said. “Not Cormier, not Rumble, not anyone in the world because I’ve grown so much in the last year. I have an A-Team of Coach Andreas Michael, Ricardo Da Silva, Dino Miringou, David van Gasse and Andy Beckinsale. I’m so confident that I will be world champion at the end of this year.”
Manuwa gathered a fair amount of criticism after his last bout, when he crumbled St. Preux but did not call on his next opponent in his post fight interview. It’s somewhat understandable, given Manuwa’s on going preference to have his fighting speak for itself. In a sport where the noisiest hinge gets the grease, he is keen for people to see his reasoning.
“I thought that people in the top 10 were all warriors, but what I’ve seen are people picking their fights to keep their rankings,” he said. “I’ve never done that. I thought everyone was the same as me. I see people trying to dodge fights. Fight the best! They are poking the Lion with the stick now by dodging fights. The Lion was asleep, but now he is awake.”
According to Manuwa, he will entertain in a way that exceeds his previous performance against St. Preux, which many pundits have already included in their KO of the year nominations for 2016.
“I stop people because of my power. I’m going to fold him up. I’m going to show him skilled power. He will not get out of the second round. I will stop Corey Anderson and let this do the talking for me. I’m gonna light up London.”