Before their teammate Israel Adesanya fights in the main event for UFC 271 against Ngāpuhi fighter Robert Whittaker, Carlos Ulberg (Tainui, Te Atiawa, Hāmoa) and Blood Diamond are hoping to begin City Kickboxing's winning ways for the pay-per-view event this Sunday.
While Zimbabwe-born New Zealand fighter Mike Mathetha, known better as Blood Diamond, prepares to show the world what he can do in his UFC welterweight debut, "The Black Jag" Carlos Ulberg will be looking to get his first win in just his second light-heavyweight fight against opponent Fabio Cherhant.
It's taken almost an entire year for Ulberg to get back into the octagon, with his last fight by way of a second-round TKO loss to Kennedy Nzechukwu last year in March, which is his first loss in his UFC career. Ulberg had won the right to be in the UFC by earning a contract in the Dana White Contender Series in January last year.
The multi King in the Ring winner goes up against Fabio Cherhant (seven wins, three losses). Cherhant, too, wants his first win in the octagon. The Brooklyn, New York fighter has had two fights in the UFC, both off first-round losses. Before that, he too had an opportunity in Dana White's Contender Series back in 2019 but ultimately lost that fight as well.
Blood Diamond's goals
Diamond faces off against Jeremiah Wells (nine wins, two losses) who is on a three-fight win streak, with four wins by knockout and three wins by submission in his professional career. It will be just his second UFC fight when he takes on Diamond.
Before he takes to the octagon for the first time this Sunday, welterweight debutant Blood Diamond spoke with ESPN about how he felt when he was given the good news of a UFC contract and his goals for his UFC career.
"I had no idea. The way he set up that whole conversation, I had no clue," Diamond says relating back to the moment where he was given his contract by head coach Eugene Bareman and teammate Israel Adesanya.
"As I said, [Adesanya] and I have had a similar journey, so as [coach Eugene Bareman] was talking and Israel was standing next to him, I was like 'okay, I know the story, there cannot be anything that will surprise.'
"So Eugene was talking and I was just getting ready for the next sparring session [with Adesanya] and I was just thinking 'I'm going to get you after this'. But then as soon as it happened, I didn't know what to say, I was like 'damn, that's me, that's cool'. But at the same time, my mind was still thinking 'we've still got sparring to do' ... but it was special. I will always treasure that."
Legendary UFC announcer Bruce Buffer usually mixes up fighters' names and nicknames before fighters do battle. In his case, Blood Diamond will be announced as 'Blood Diamond' - just the way that Mathetha likes it.
"My whole career I've been called Blood Diamond," he says. "It's so crazy. Before my first international fight, my coach said 'By the way, what's your name again?' because it's just been Blood Diamond and I was like 'you know what, let's just keep it that way'.
"So I'm going to ride that train as long as I can; it's something special to me, that is my name."
And if you have ever thought about knowing what the multi King In the Ring champ's goals are, they're nothing short of admirable.
"It is to leave a legacy, that is my goal," he says. "When it's all said and done I want people to be like 'Blood Diamond, he's the truth'.
"Another goal of mine, this is one of the biggest goals I have, is that next time you Google "Blood Diamond", I'm going to be the first person to show up before the movie."
Ulberg and Diamond are poised to battle inside the cage in UFC 271's opening bouts as part of the UFC Fight Pass early preliminary card, starting at 12pm NZ time this Sunday, February 13.