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Chris Dempsey.

'Everything Feels Right' For Dempsey's UFC Debut

UFC newcomer Chris Dempsey speaks to Your MMA about his upcoming debut against Ilir Latifi in Dublin.

Author: Jay Furness (@JayFurnessMMA)


Chris Dempsey is all set to make his UFC debut in Dublin this weekend, stepping in with just a few weeks' preparation for the biggest fight of his career to date. He'll meet a formidable opponent in Ilir Latifi; the muscled Swede who coined his own choke earlier this year in London when he defeated Cyrille Diabate. 

Wrestler Dempsey knew he was going to be in the running for a call-up, with eight straight victories on regional shows. That meant he adopted the "stay ready" motto, made famous by none other than this weekend's main event fighter Conor McGregor.

It paid off, and he told Your MMA's Jay Furness that he feels ready to make an impression at the O2 on Saturday night.

YourMMA.tv: Chris, it's your UFC debut and you've stepped in at late notice. Do you stay in the gym and stay fight ready?

Chris Dempsey: I definitely stay fight ready, but coming into this fight I am 10-1 and on an eight-fight win streak so we were hoping for a late notice opportunity anyway. I usually fight at middleweight so I did bump up, but taking it on three weeks was enough for me to get ready. I only had three weeks to prepare for him, but he only had three weeks to prepare for me aswell, so I feel like I was in the gym enough to be ready and in shape.

YourMMA.tv: Was there any correspondence with the UFC to tell you to be ready?

Chris Dempsey: No, we talked to a few managers who said they were close to getting me a fight so I got excited. We kind of had a timetable to have them look for a fight in August, but this came up and I could not pass up the opportunity to fight here.

YourMMA.tv: The UFC is the ultimate goal and most fighters will jump at any opportunity to feature - would there ever be a situation where you’d say “I can’t take this fight”?

Chris Dempsey: Actually there was a short notice fight against Pat Cummins, that was just a couple of days. We didn’t pursue it because it wasn’t right, They didn’t offer it to us or anything, but it was another situation where we could have been in for it. Pat Cummins’ manager actually messaged me before he signed yo the UFC about a fight in California.

The way I look at it, if I’m not ready to fight, I won’t go into it. I don’t make the decisions either really. I listen to my cornermen and my manager, and if they think the situation is right then I’m just the fighter, I’ll fight. It doesn’t really matter who it is. I feel like they’re far away enough from the situation to see it clearly so I just do what they say, and I like it that way.

YourMMA.tv: Have you managed to tailor a plan for Latifi?

Chris Dempsey: We’ve definitely seen some things he does. Again, it’s not really something I do but I let my coaches do that. They’ve seen things he does well, but we’re trying to focus more on me being better, and putting the fight in situations that benefit me, not letting it happen where he wants.

YourMMA.tv: Where is it that you feel you have the edge?

Chris Dempsey: Well, I’m a wrestler, he’s a wrestler, we’ve got the same strength but different styles. I just want to make sure I put the fight where I want it and don’t work around him.

YourMMA.tv: You’re making your UFC debut at 10-1 and on a great streak. Do you feel this is the perfect time?

Chris Dempsey: Yeah, I definitely feel ready. Sometimes one thing or another doesn’t feel good and you’ve just got to suck it up and get through camp, but this time everything feels right. As things have progressed, I’ve been feeling better and better.

YourMMA.tv: And in Dublin, how did you feel about that?

Chris Dempsey: That’s awesome. I’m Irish by heritage so Ireland’s been the place I wanted to go more than anywhere else in the world. To have my first fight in Dublin, well, I’m real excited about it.

YourMMA.tv: Not so much killing yourself with a weight cut either because you’ve gone up the weight for the fight?

Chris Dempsey: Yeah, exactly. We got something to eat after we worked out last night and got to see the city a little bit. I went on a run around and it was cool being in a different place and feeling the culture. I mean, you don’t really see it as “different”, but it really is. It’s cool to see.

Dempsey meets Latifi in a light-heavyweight contest at UFC Fight Night Dublin this weekend. Stay tuned to www.facebook.com/YourMMA and @YourMMA on Twitter.


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