Donegal man John Hutchinson will be front and centre on Saturday night at the UFC’s historic ‘Fight Island’ card in Abu Dhabi.
UFC 251 takes place on Yas Island with Jorge Masvidal stepping in on six days notice to challenge Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title.
While the main event is a huge attraction, the card is stacked from top to bottom with plenty of heavy hitters set to collide in the United Arab Emirates.
One fight that is coming in slightly under the radar is Russian bantamweight Petr Yan’s attempt at capturing a first world title when he meets pound-for-pound great Jose Aldo who is aiming to become a two-division champion.
Yan goes into the encounter as a slight favourite over the legend who has lost four of his last seven fights since Conor Mcgregor sensationally put him away inside 13 seconds to capture the featherweight title at UFC 194 in 2015.
While Aldo attempts one more shot at glory this weekend another Irish man is plotting his downfall in the shape of John Hutchinson, head coach of Petr Yan.
The Donegal native is a former professional boxer based in Phuket, Thailand. Despite having a background in pugilism, it is MMA were Hutchinson is moulding world championship contenders.
While the ‘Buncrana Banger’ admitted he hasn’t sought advice from his fellow Irish man ahead of the bout, he does believe McGregor showed the blueprint on how to beat Jose Aldo.
“I didn’t contact McGregor,” he told Irish-boxing.com.
“Our teammate Alex and their team beat Aldo when fighting the Brazilian for the world title [shot] with Max Holloway.”
“I did tell Petr that Aldo can’t deal with boxers. I also told him that McGregor was perfect example, plenty of faints, half step backs, good feet, speed and timing is the key.”
The Donegal man is feeling confident that Yan will live up to his potential and take down the former UFC featherweight champion, predicting the Russian to finish the fight inside three rounds.
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“Aldo ain’t going to like us Irish after this fight for sure,” he said.
“It’s all about timing in life and it’s Petr’s time. Aldo had his. Of course, I’ll be telling him at [the] weigh-in I am Irish and to tuck his chin in as he’s going to sleep.
“I can’t see this fight going the distance, this is a big statement but I want to say it will be done inside three rounds. Petr is one hard-hitting striker that can move. He has relentless speed and timing. Petr will be the UFC champion of the world in the end one million per cent!”
Reflecting on his own journey from boxer to MMA coach Hutchinson cited Conor McGregor’s fights and popularity as one of the reasons he diverted towards the sport despite coming from a boxing background.
“Looking back now focus was boxing, but always kept an eye on MMA. Then with McGregor and bigger fights I really got more into it.”
“When I went to Tigermuaythai it really opened my eyes to all mixed martial arts. I was mixing everyday with MMA fighters, becoming friends and getting more and more into it.”