Nicolas Dalby will look to reclaim his old crown, the Cage Warriors welterweight championship, when he meets champion Ross Houston in the main event of title-heavy marquee Cage Warriors 106: Night of Champions in London, England on Saturday.
Many feel as though “Locomotivo” could be awarded a UFC return for his hometown event, UFC Copenhagen, if he has his hand raised following his meeting with the Scot.
After claiming a win over Elizeu Zaleski and a draw over future title contender Darren Till, Dalby’s run with the UFC came to end in 2016 after back-to-back decision losses to Zak Cummings and Peter Sobotta.
Although he doesn’t see Houston as one of his toughest opponents to date, Dalby does believe that his attempt at regaining Cage Warriors gold is one of “the most pivotal” bouts of his career, given what’s at stake.
“If I look at Houston on paper, there’s no way he’s near the best opponent I’ve faced,” said Dalby on the latest episode of MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast, “but for sure, this is one of the most pivotal fights of my career. So, the fight itself—and of course Houston is part of that—is a very pivotal moment for me, but just looking at Houston, and what he carries in his toolbox, I wouldn’t put him in the top three of the best opponents I’ve ever fought.”
“[I feel like a win could get me back to the UFC], that’s why this fight is so pivotal and that’s why I’ve prepared so intensely for it. I’ve improved my skills even more than I did for the last fight. Especially where I am mentally has gotten a lot better than before.”
Although he is confident the call will come with a win at the iconic Hammersmith Apollo, Dalby insists he hasn’t been told as much by UFC brass.
“If you’re asking me directly if I’ve gotten any hints [about returning to the UFC], no, I haven’t; but that could just be my managers making sure that I’m focused on the right task. Either way, it doesn’t matter too much because being told, ‘if you win this next fight you’re getting a UFC contract’, maybe that could put some pressure on, which could be detrimental. I like just focusing on this fight and doing the best job I can, and that can determine what should happen next.”
The former Cage Warriors champion admits he would be disappointed if he missed out on an opportunity to fight on the UFC’s Copenhagen date should he recapture his old title on Saturday night.
“Yes, I would be disappointed,” said Dalby. “I felt like even in the last fight I showed that I’m way better than everyone else in the Cage Warriors welterweight division right now. I really feel like I’m a couple of levels ahead, so if I don’t get back to the UFC, they are missing, they are making a mistake.”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Nicolas Dalby interview begins at 56:00.