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Rampage: Jimi Manuwa almost knocked me out

ESPN staff
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Jimi Manuwa carries heavy knockout power © Getty Images
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Rampage Jackson has highlighted the threat of Jimi Manuwa to the UFC light-heavyweight division, insisting he feels sorry for anybody who has to fight the Brit - including next opponent Cyrille Diabate.

Jackson and Manuwa spent weeks sparring together in order to sharpen their striking for fights against Glover Teixeira and Diabate respectively.

For Manuwa, the training experience was a chance to work with a former UFC champion who he had admired for years, but he quickly earned the respect of Rampage in sparring, with the American claiming tickets could have been sold just to watch them train.

"It got kind of heated in there. One time we were sparring, I looked round and all my coaches were kicking back with popcorn," Rampage told ESPN.

"He's tough, he's a great sparring partner, I feel bad for anyone who fights this guy. He punches hard, he's got some of the hardest kicks I've ever felt - he's tough.

"Jimi can knock out anyone he wants. He has excellent striking and he actually backs me up, not many people do that. So if he can do that to me - and I don't mind getting punched - he can knock anybody out. He almost knocked me out a few times!"

Diabate is the man who has to stop Manuwa on February 16 at UFC London, and Rampage is confident the Brit will emerge victorious. However, he did advise Manuwa to threaten a takedown to keep kickboxer Diabate guessing.

"Both guys are strikers, if I was Jimi I would use an all-round game, maybe look to take him down once or twice just to nullify his striking. And then work from there.

"But Jimi doesn't need to do that. Use those leg kicks, and then use those hands. His all-round striking game is on point. I'm very impressed with his striking."

For tickets to UFC London, book via Ticketmaster.co.uk

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