Greater Manchester’s finest mixed martial arts fighter, Pietro Menga, has signed a deal with the UFC – achieving his lifetime ambition – and will fight next week.
Following in the footsteps of another local fighter and former middleweight UFC champion, Michael Bisping, Swinton’s Menga will step into the octagon on 16th December in Canada when he comes up against American flyweight Tim Elliott.
With a record of 13 wins and no defeats, there’s high hopes for the 29-year-old, who is regarded as one of the UK’s top fighters. And even if he comes out defeated, Menga insists he has nothing to lose as it’s his first fight in the UFC.
If it all seems a little rushed, that’s because it is.
“It’s been a chaotic few days,” Menga told us. “I found out on Monday morning and I fly to Canada next Monday for the fight on Saturday. I’ve basically had to cram everything in over such a short period of time. Even my training is over after just two days in the gym.”
Having been dedicated to fighting since he was a teenager, training in Taekwondo before changing into his Thai boxing kit and vice-versa, it’s been a long time coming for Menga, who has a habit of defeating his opponents in the first round.
“I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this… but everything happens for a reason and now I’m here,” he said. “I’ve been training in martial arts since I started Thai Boxing when I was six and I’ve been wanting to fight in the UFC and be a champion since I was 16. Now it’s a reality.
“I sent an email to the UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard a few months ago saying that I’m fit and ready for anybody at 125 pounds or 135 pounds. And then out of nowhere I got an email back asking if I’d be ready to fight next week, and I jumped at the chance.”
This astonishingly quick turn around means he’ll be squeezing a 10-week training camp into just four days when he steps onto the plane next Tuesday.
Winning his first fight on the world stage would set Menga up to be on the card for the next UK UFC fight in London next year.
“It’ll be my first proper introduction to the world, a real homecoming. For that one, I’ll be doing a full training camp, with it being really intense right at the end.”
Now he’s being recognised in the street this week – something he hasn’t experienced before.
“I was walking down the street when a man about 60 years old stopped me, calling my by my first name and congratulated me for signing with the UFC. That sent shivers down my spine.”
Good luck, Pietro Menga!