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Rising star Nick Osipczak made his name on "The Ultimate Fighter" season 9 with a stunning head-kick knockout of Mark Millar, before being narrowly beaten by eventual finalist DaMarques Johnson in one of the most entertaining fights in TUF history.
After leaving the show, Osipczak defeated Frank Lestor at the finale by rear-naked choke before becoming the first person to defeat Matt Riddle when he TKO'd the American in impressive fashion at UFC 105 in Manchester.
FiveKnuckles.com: Nick, firstly thank you for taking the time out to do this interview. How are your preparations going for your upcoming bout with Rick Story?
Nick Osipczak: Yeah all spot on. I'm flying out Friday and the camps been good. I feel fit, strong and I can't wait.
5K: How much are you looking forward to fighting in Abu Dhabi?
N.O.: Loads, I actually asked to fight on this card. It's somewhere I wanted to go and this is the first time the UFC have been out there so it's big. I like going to new places and they have spent a lot of money out there so it's good. It's also a great card with two title fights so it's good to be part of it.
5K: Last time out you defeated another wrestler, Matt Riddle, will you look to employ a similar game plan?
N.O.: Yeah they are both wrestlers and southpaws and the first game plan worked out well so it would be silly not to follow it again. Obviously I have made a few tweaks with regards to height and the combinations he likes to throw etc. But I think the advantage is in my favor.
5K: There was a little trash talk between you and Riddle going into the fight at UFC 105, how satisfying was it to get the win in front of the home crowd?
N.O.: Oh immensely (satisfying). I felt the whole crowd were behind me. I think his entrance even riled them up. He's just one of those people. So it's always good to beat a foreign opponent on home soil.
5K: What strengths does Story bring that you will have to look out for?
N.O.: Well his wrestling is his best aspect. And like all wrestlers he has good cardio. He also has a good head in the sense that he doesn't waver much. I think I've got the advantage but his wrestling and his cardio are his best chance.
5K: John Hathaway holds a victory over Story, have you spoken to him at all for any advice?
N.O.: I haven't spoken to him no, but I've watched the fight and I think I've picked up a few things. It's certainly given me confidence that his best strength is his wrestling and John out-wrestled him. That's given me great confidence, but I'm looking to finish.
5K: How much did being a contestant on TUF help your career as a fighter?
N.O.: Loads, and its not only the training and the people you meet. For me, as a fighter I hadn't had many professional fights, so would I have fought in a UFC octagon five times? Finishing four of those fights. So it helps by giving you that familiarity.
5K: How did the TUF opportunity come about?
N.O.: Just word on the street really. It was perfect timing for me, I was 3-0 as a pro, a welterweight and the auditions were in London, where I live so it was just perfect.
5K: On the show you came across as more of a stand-up fighter, but your also good on the ground with a few submissions on your record. What do you prefer?
N.O.: I don't really have a preference. I enjoy both, but I suppose if I had to choose between a submission or a knockout I'd have to go for the knockout. It's more of a crowd favorite. For me though, the main thing is winning in the easiest possibly way depending on my opponent's strengths.
N.O.: Really good. One of the main things is our fights are all in close proximity. Dan's just fought, Ross and Andre fight tonight and Paul fights just after me. So we can all help each other prepare. Training for a fight is so much better when everyone else is taking it as serious.
5K: How good is it having fellow welterweights Daley and Hardy around to train with?
N.O.: Quality, that's why I came. They have excellent stand up and it just ups my game. I'm really fortunate to be able to train with them.
5K: Dan recently lost a tough fight to George St. Pierre, but in doing so he showed a lot of heart. What did you make of that fight?
N.O.: Yeah, like you said he showed a lot of heart. He took a lot of what GSP could give him and stuck in there for five rounds. Apart from a couple of sore arms he doesn't really have a mark on him. Paul Daley will be fighting him next after his win over (Josh) Koscheck and hopefully he can do better. But the whole country is proud of Dan. He took the best GSP could do. He didn't do his best, but he will back before long and do much better.
5K: What does that fight, and TUF that you featured on, show for British MMA?
N.O.: It shows that on the ground we can hang in there now. A lot of them are fearful of our striking, but our wrestling needs to be better. The whole word knows that the UK are serious at MMA. We have gained respect now.
5K: How did you first start out in MMA?
N.O.: I watched MMA and realized that it was real fighting, and I just found a good club and went along. I enjoyed it and just took it from there really.
5K: Your background was in Kung Fu, how does that translate into MMA?
N.O.: Well luckily in my style we sparred a lot so that helped. I know that as bad as a lot of these traditional martial arts are, there were some positives. Timing and reflexes were a couple, and it taught me how to throw some pretty decent kicks. It's also the experience of competing that helps.
5K: You were unbeaten at amateur and semi-pro levels, how did that help your professional career?
N.O.: It's just all experience. It all adds up. It just makes you more confident in what you are doing in the gym and helps you realize your potential.
5K: Finally, I believe you were actually a professional gambler at one time? How did that come about?
N.O.: I've always gambled since I was in school, and when I finished uni I just started playing poker. It worked well because I was able to train in MMA full time while I was a pro gambler. So I trained like a pro before I even turned pro.
5K: Do you still play?
N.O.: No, I don't need the stress or the hassle!
5K: Thanks for your time Nick, good luck in your fight.
N.O.: No problem, thanks.
Nick Osipczak is sponsored by Jaco Clothing, Tokyo Five, LoveMMA.co.uk, Humboldt Nutrients, Hayabusa Fightwear, Maximuscle and Oxford Martial Arts Academy.