15 Mar - 
Jack Marshman 'massively confident' in wider arsenal over John Phillips' one path to victory

LONDON – As John Phillips said in his own chat with MMA Junkie during media day for UFC on ESPN+ 5, the fight with fellow Welshman Jack Marshman is one he’s been wanting for a while. More specifically, he’s wanted it since Marshman got the UFC call before he did.

For Phillips, the sole downside of the fight was that it’s only happening now, on Saturday, at a time when both men are in rough spots in their skidding UFC careers. As far as Marshman (22-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC) is concerned, though, the reason why the battle of Wales took this long has a lot to do with Phillips (21-8 MMA, 0-2 UFC) .

“We’ve offered him this fight a few times before, so it’s funny,” Marshman told MMA Junkie. “He really wanted it, but we did have a fight in Glasgow, but obviously he was injured. We offered him a fight when I was Cage Warriors champion; that didn’t go through, because (John) Kavanaugh said no. How badly you want it? We offered it to you a few times.

“But it’s a good fight. He’s going to come to try to take my (expletive) head off, and I’m going to try to take his head off, so, you know what it’s like. It’s going to be a good scrap.”

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Now that’s something both men can agree on, as Phillips also expects to put on a great fight at The O2. The middleweight bout opens up the main card, which streams live on ESPN+ along with the rest of the night’s fights.

Their definitions of “good scrap” here, though, might vary a little. Phillips is, as usual, interested in a stand-up battle and emphatically stressed he will aim for a knockout. That’s really no secret to anyone who’s familiar with Phillips’ go-to, and it sure isn’t a secret to Marshman, who’s known mostly for his striking abilities.

“John’s got one way he can beat me, and we all know what that is,” Marshman said.

Throwing leather is an approach that’s worked out for his foe, Marshman points out, as evidenced by the hefty number of knockouts on his record. But he has trouble seeing how Phillips’ one tool would be enough to counter his own, much wider arsenal.

“I’m confident I’m a savvy enough boxer to avoid his big shots,” Marshman said. “I think I’ve got good enough wrestling to take him down, I’ve got good enough grappling to sub him. I’m massively confident going into the fight.

“… I’ve got a (expletive) closet full of ways I can beat him. That’s the difference in the fight. If I want to take him down, if I grind him out for three rounds. I’m not a guy that’s into a boring fight, so if I do take him down, I’ll be looking to hurt him on the ground. And if I keep standing up, I’ll be looking to outbox him.”

The way Marshman sees it, it’s rather simple: He needs to fight on Saturday like he fights in the gym. That means being clever in whatever area the fight goes, avoid getting hit with “silly” shots and not let himself get dragged into a war just for the sake of it.

If he does end up entangled in the type of “blood and guts” battle that people are expecting, he’s at least hoping it comes with a reward.

“Perhaps they’ll start looking at bringing shows into Wales,” Marshman said. “And we get a rematch on.”

To hear from Marshman, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC on ESPN+ 5, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.