MMA fighter who swapped Zimbabwe for Southend says ‘accent was toughest thing’

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    On March 11, Walter Gahadza will go toe-to-toe with Aymard Guih for the vacant welterweight title at Hexagone MMA 7 at the Futoroscope Arena in Poitiers, France. And after a lifetime of overcoming the odds, he's ready to go one step further and cement his place among the greatest fighters in British history.

    Born in Zimbabwe, 'The Sniper' gravitated to sport from a young age, showcasing talent in football and sprinting. But at 14, everything turned upside down when his family moved to the UK.

    Speaking exclusively to the Daily Star, he reminisced: "There were a couple of hurdles. To start with, there was the accent. I came from Zimbabwe to Southend-on-Sea, Essex," he laughed. "I could speak and write English very well. But the accent was the toughest thing, and the weather. The first time I experienced snow was over here. But I managed to adapt. That's something that I do pretty well, and it translates to MMA."

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    After a difficult start to life in England, Gahadza found MMA and never looked back. With explosive hands, laser-like precision and an unrivalled will to win, he compiled an incredible 16-0 record.

    And while he stumbled upon hard times in Bellator and BAMMA, he never lost sight of his ultimate goal.

    While some doubted him, the 35-year-old maintained faith in his talent, knowing that a switch in camp could unlock his full potential.

    Following his instincts, he moved to Great Britain Top Team, and things instantly clicked into place. Gahadza caught a plane to Dusseldorf, Germany, to fight Robert Oganesyan at EMC 10, and won via first-round rear-naked choke.

    The stunning performance sent shockwaves through the division, with many fighters fearing what was to come next. And after reigniting his career, the powerhouse flew across the pond to fulfil a lifelong dream. And he could never have guessed whom he'd meet on his travels.

    Gahadza beamed: "I went and experienced Canada. I'd always wanted to train at Tristar gym and work with Firas Zahabi, who's one of the best coaches in MMA. And Georges St-Pierre just came and walked in. He started working out just like every other athlete on the mat. I got a chance to have a conversation with him and do the whole 'fan-boy' thing and take pictures and whatnot."

    "I look up to him. He built up a really solid foundation for MMA. It was a great experience. He's a really humble guy and a pure martial artist."

    The opportunity to soak up St-Pierre's words of wisdom doesn't come around very often. Therefore, Gahadza will have to remember every last word ahead of his next outing.

    In the biggest bout of his career, the Brit challenges Aymard Guih for the vacant welterweight strap, with a win making all the years of hard work and sacrifice worthwhile.

    The fighter explained: "I've always seen myself as a world champion; the moment just hasn't come yet. But it's about to. I'm going to go in there and put on a performance. It's a pretty defining moment in my career. After I went through a four-fight skid, the last one got me back in there. I finished a tough opponent, and now I have a title shot. It definitely feels like eyes are on me. It's a career-defining moment, and I'm going to grab it with everything. I've been preparing for this moment for years."

    Fans can watch Gahadza's blockbuster contest live and exclusive on BT Sport.


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