At one point, it was thought that Nicolas Dalby wouldn’t heal in time for UFC Copenhagen.
While Dalby’s wounds from a now-infamous Cage Warriors fight were superficial, they were serious enough to warrant additional scrutiny from MMA observers.
Referee Marc Goddard waved off a title bout between Dalby and Ross Houston in the third round when he deemed the canvas too slippery from bloodshed. Despite a significant cut in the first from a Huston elbow, Dalby had battled back, busting the Scott’s nose as he took control of the contest before its early end.
Although Dalby didn’t get the win, his stock shot up. And thankfully, he was a quick healer.
Now, Dalby returns to the UFC in his homeland on Saturday when he faces Brazilian welterweight Alex Oliveira. He couldn’t be happier with the matchup.
“It’s a very exciting matchup,” Dalby told MMA Fighting. “For me, it’s the perfect mix of risk and reward. The risk is there because he’s a dangerous fighter; he’s very aggressive and he’s a very good counter striker too.
“He switches between those two modes, and that’s one of the most interesting things about his striking. He has the ability to switch from recklessness to being a very measured counter-striker. It’s a very interesting fight skill wise, and there is also some name value there.
“I think it says a lot about how the UFC sees me, to be putting me in with a guy like this. And in all honesty, if any of the fights with Danish fighters were going to be co-main event, this one should have been it.”
After fighting back from bloody adversity to get a second run as a UFC fighter, Dalby believes his dance with Houston was the perfect preparation for his UFC return.
“I’m coming into this fight knowing for sure that I’m never going to quit, and that’s a big asset for me,” he said. “I’m never going to back down, I’m never going to give up ,and I can manage to fight intelligently in the third round of a fight, even when I might be down on the scorecards. I can fight recklessly if I need to just to push the pace, as we saw in the Darren Till fight. I feel like that pressure will be too much for ‘Cowboy’ (Oliveira).”
The two-time Cage Warriors champion is confident that a win over Oliveira will put him on course to reach the top 10 by 2020.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Dalby said. “This is the perfect comeback fight for me, because when I get this win on Saturday, I’m going to be the guy that people start calling out, and I’m going to get into the top 10 by 2020. This is the perfect fight to help me reach that goal as soon as possible.”