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Proudly proclaiming he fights as an ANZAC, just like his grandfather did in World War II, James Te Huna dismisses an age of sporting rivalry between the nation he grew up in, New Zealand, and Australia, where he’s been based for almost 13 years.

“I’m from New Zealand but Australia’s a big part of where I am today, so I fight for both,” he says.

Only a mug would question his allegiance – the 31-year-old has a formidable professional record and his name literally means “The Hiding”, a fair representation of the floggings he tends to give opponents with his attacking style.

Te Huna takes on tough Canadian Ryan Jimmo in a light-heavyweight bout at Wembley Arena when the UFC comes to the UK for the fifth time on February 16.

It’s fair to call this the prime contender for fight of the night, with both men renowned for their aversion to taking a backward step. “He’s a hard guy to fight, from what I’ve seen,” says Te Huna in the first of many understatements.

“I watched the video of his first UFC fight but it doesn’t last all that long, not even 30 seconds.”

Jimmo’s UFC debut officially lasted seven seconds, including time for a touch of the gloves with UFC veteran Anthony Perosh before he delivered a thunderous right hand to his opponent’s left jaw and ended the fight in the equal fastest time in UFC history.

He was no green-horn having fought 16 times with only one loss – in his first ever fight in 2007 – in Canada’s Maximum Fighting Championship.

“His previous fights went to decisions, and he didn’t really press the fight, just sucked people into going the same pace as him,” Te Huna muses.

“But he can push a fight forward. I’ve got a similar sort of style in wanting to push the fight, so I’ll be able to come at him and see if I can get him hurt early and get the win. I take risks but hopefully get the reward. And the crowd seems to love it.”

The all-or-nothing approach likely stems from Te Huna’s upbringing, he says, without elaborating. He doesn’t claim to be fancy, just works hard and leaves nothing in The Octagon. 

“I had a pretty simple childhood,” he says.

“But it changed when I got into martial arts, watching a lot of Van Damme and Eighties martial arts movies. My uncle was into it and my father was a bit of a brawler, so I had it in my blood.” 

It was inevitable Te Huna would find himself in a ring of some description, but he tried plenty before he found his home in the one with eight sides, a fence and a pot of gold.

“I started boxing as a teenager, and I wasn’t too good at that,” he says.

“I think I just got bored of it. Then I came across a kick-boxing gym and gave that a go, and didn’t do too well.

"Then I tried jujitsu, and didn’t do too well. I kept trying these things, but then there was a MMA tournament in Queensland, so I gave that a go and fell in love with it.”

His story had a long way to go.


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Interview: UFC powerhouse James Te Huna says he's fighting for both Oz and NZ when in London this month
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