UFC: 'Crazy but my time to shine' - Rhys McKee prepared for whirlwind debut after late call-up

Rhys McKee
McKee will fly to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday for Sunday's fight

Ballymena mixed martial artist Rhys McKee believes he is fully prepared for his UFC debut this week despite the last-minute nature of his call-up.

The 24-year-old has signed a deal to join the world's leading MMA promotion and will fight Sweden's Khamzat Chimaev in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

He only received the call from UFC on Saturday, but is not daunted by the prospect.

"It's all been very, very crazy," McKee told Monday's Sportsound Extra Time.

"It's been all go, running for tests and medicals, but it's amazing. It's my time to shine. I believe my mental preparation for this was done years ago.

"What you repeatedly do is what you are. If I didn't have the mental head space for this I would have said no - it is automatic pilot at this stage for me.

"I'm just ready to jump on that plane at six days' notice and fight a man who some people say is going to be one of the next big things."

McKee, who has an MMA record of 10-2-1, will fly to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday to prepare further for Sunday's welterweight contest.

Khamzat Chimaev
Chimaev defeated Welshman John Phillips in Abu Dhabi last Wednesday

It will take place on 'Fight Island', where the UFC is hosting its events behind closed doors due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as part of the undercard of the headline fight between Darren Till and Robert Whittaker.

The Ballymena man says he is fully aware of the challenge he faces against his Swedish opponent, but is buoyed the fact that the UFC have included him.

"Chimaev is no joke. He made his debut for the UFC last week and is on his way to a record for the quickest turnaround, but I'm not there to help his record," he continued.

"I'm there to do my own thing and get the result that I deserve. He's a very, very tough opponent but I'm a very tough opponent too.

"The UFC bosses came for me and I take great confidence from that. We are on the main card of the UFC for a debut. If that doesn't give me confidence in my own ability then I don't think anything will."

You can listen to the full Rhys McKee interview on Sportsound Extra Time, which is on Radio Ulster at 18:05 BST and will be available on BBC Sounds later on Monday evening.

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