Nicolas Dalby, a fan from Denmark, attended his first live UFC event at the O2 Arena in London, England, in 2007. Dalby couldn’t imagine being in Martin Kampmann’s position as he watched the fighter with only a few years of mixed martial arts experience.
In the present, Dalby is performing his first walk in The O2 Arena and is making his 27th professional appearance. The sentimental value of this full circle moment, however, must be put on hold as Dalby prepares to fight Cláudio Silva at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Aspinall after a 13-month hiatus.
The return of “Danish Dynamite” to the Octagon was hampered by numerous injuries. A strong showing in London would be the ideal first step in getting his UFC career back on track. He is eager to compete up to four times per year.
I felt like the layoff had been long, but a lot had also happened, Dalby said. “I suffered serious wounds. I haven’t experienced any [injuries] during the fight camp; everything has felt natural.
“It feels like business as usual during fight week. I don’t feel any rust after that break. On Saturday, it will be exciting to experience life inside the cage.
Despite 12 years of professional competition, Dalby anticipates a challenging road ahead in the UFC. “Danish Dynamite” pursues personal goals with the vigor of a UFC rookie because he feels as though he is still in the middle of his career.
Dalby declared, “I need to find a balance to perform more reliably, and I’ve really found that lately. “I’m looking forward to fighting on Saturday very much.”
During his second stint in the promotion, Dalby has never had an easy time finding that balance. He was forced to quickly acclimate to a new challenge after each of his previous three scheduled opponents canceled.
Only one of his three short-notice fights ended in victory, and the lack of preparation for them was causing unneeded stress on fight night. However, Dalby will play against the opponent who was originally selected and attempt to carry out a gameplan that has been coming together throughout his entire training camp for the first time since 2019.
I believe that has happened in the last three fights in a row, so not having my opponent withdraw with two to three weeks’ notice has been amazing, Dalby said. “I don’t miss it; it’s a source of stress. I value being able to focus solely on one opponent during the entire fight camp.
Dalby needs the extra time to prepare for a skilled competitor like Silva if he wants to succeed in the Octagon. Dalby doesn’t want to actively engage Silva on the ground, but he’s ready for that possibility as he faces a skilled grappler in “Hannibal,” who has nine submissions to his credit in his 14 victories as a professional.
“I practice a crazy amount of sparring with amazing jiu-jitsu guys and try to have them rip off my limbs to prepare for a guy like my opponent,” Dalby said.
Dalby can anticipate the noisiest crowd he has ever competed in front of if the atmosphere at the previous UFC London event, UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs. Aspinall, is any indication of what will take place inside The O2.
But Dalby is able to set that aside and concentrate on his sole objective of simply winning the game. Playing with fire is not something “Danish Dynamite” wants to do against Silva, despite never finishing an opponent inside the Octagon, and he intends to use enough patience to outlast the Brazilian.
“The supporters can anticipate seeing a very composed Nicolas Dalby. I’m going to stay back, pick him apart, make him tired and make mistakes because my opponent is very dangerous and he wants me to rush in, and then I’ll take advantage and finish him.
Don’t miss any of Saturday, July 23’s UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Aspinall, which will be broadcast live from London’s O2 Arena. Preliminaries start at 12 pm ET/9 am PT. The main card begins at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT.