Coming off his second win in as many UFC outings, fan favorite Makwan 'Mr. Finland' Amirkhani had a clear idea as to who he wanted to face in his third test in the Octagon.
After Mike Wilkinson pulled off a shock first round knockout of Amirkhani's former Allstars teammate Niklas Backstrom, 'Mr. Finland' wanted to avenge his friend's loss against the Brit. Amirkhani has since switched from the Swedish facility to SBG Ireland, the home of Conor McGregor, and while he still has a relationship with his "good friend" Backstrom, he has his own reasons for being excited ahead of February 27 clash with Wilkinson in London.
"Niklas is a good friend of mine, but this is now something between me and Mike Wilkinson," he explained. "It's not about Niklas or anyone else, it's just about me proving that I'm better than Mike Wilkinson.
"I need that tougher opponent. I need someone who can punch me in the face because, over the last 14 fights, only one guy has punched me in the face. They have to understand that I need somebody tougher."
Since the announcement of the bout, Wilkinson claimed that the only reason Amirkhani left Allstars for SBG Ireland is because "someone banged his missus".
"He's either doubting his ability or someone banged his missus, and that's what the rumors going about are (saying)," Wilkinson told SevereMMA.com at the end of December. "He called me out on the back of beating his teammate, and I'm hearing that it's either his teammates that are banging his missus or it's his coach. I don't know."
While a lot of other people might be angered by such a personal statement being made by an opponent, former model Amirkhani dismissed Wilkinson's claims.
"It doesn't make me angry at all … I think he's thinking, 'Makwan has some problems', he's lost'.
"Let me tell you, I was ready for this fight six months ago. I was ready when I was finishing Masio Fullen. I was ready to take a fight immediately after that one. It's Mike Wilkinson's bad luck that they gave me so much time to train for this fight.
"I know some guys that know me have been talking shit about me behind my back. These things that they are saying about my girlfriend were not on an international level in terms of news and stuff. I know there are some people who have been talking to Mike who know what actually happened over there (in Allstars).
"Now Mike thinks he knows the situation because they have been talking to him … I think that he thinks I'm lost, but when I look in the mirror I say, 'shit, I'm glad (the people talking to Mike) are not in my division'. They are very lucky that I can't fight them."
When asked if he thought Wilkinson represented a step up in competition, Amirkhani likened his London opponent to fellow Englishman Andy Ogle–a man that lasted all of eight seconds with 'Maku' in his UFC debut.
"He's the same as Andy Ogle, and what happened to him? How long did it take me to knock him out? Mike Wilkinson is in for the same. Mike will get the same result in London.
"I think some people underestimate me and my power–the power that real wrestling has–that's something that shocks you, brother. Not catch wrestling or any of the other shit people are doing. That does not compare to real wrestling."
He also declared that he will finish Wilkinson in just one round:
"Maybe it won't be in the first few seconds. Come on, he's been training for this fight for over a year! It's his home crowd and his family is there so I should really let him stay in there for more than ten seconds. He thinks it's his party, that's not true and he will know that within the first second.
"His family will cry, that's for sure. I remember when I was fighting in Sweden and at the weigh in the family of Andy Ogle was in the front row and they were screaming for me. After the fight, I was thinking, 'they've come all the way from England for eight seconds'.
"Mike Wilkinson's family are lucky because we are fighting in London. They don't need to buy any flight tickets or anything. It won't cost them that much, but after paying for tickets and staying in a hotel, it will be first round loss for Mike."