LOGAN STORELY knows he'll be walking into the lion's den when challenges for Bellator gold in London this weekend – but competing in front of a hostile crowd is nothing new for the American.
The Sanford MMA standout has been drafted in to face London's very own Michael Page for the interim welterweight title on Friday night.
The majority of fans in attendance at the intimate SSE Wembley Arena will be rooting for Storely's demise as he makes his way cageside.
But his experience wrestling in front of hostile crowds at university have prepared him well for the biggest fight of his career.
He told SunSport: "I know there's going be about 50 people out of the 13,000 people in the arena who won't be booing me. But I've wrestled in that [environment] before.
"I've wrestled in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City with 15,000 Hawkeye fans who hate Minnesota. Penn State, all these places, Ive done it before in the college ranks.
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"15,000 or 20,000 people on ESPN and a lot of people want to see you lose. So we're used to the boos, we're used to the refs, we're used to a lot of it not going our way sometimes."
Storely is no stranger to the pressures of fighting in his hometown, recalling: "I've fought at home in Sioux Falls two or three times.
"It's fun to have the crowd with you, but at the same time, there's a lot more pressure.
"He's going to have all his friends, family and people that he's known forever there. There is a lot behind that."
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Storely was drafted in as a replacement for undisputed welterweight champ Yaroslav Amosov, who has bravely taken up arms in Ukraine's ongoing war with Russia.
Amosov bounced Storely from the ranks of the unbeaten in November 2020, but the American isn't thinking about exacting revenge on the champ anytime soon.
He said: "They're going through a completely different thing in Ukraine. And honestly, we don't even know when he's going to be back.
"Each day they're trying to protect their contract and make sure they're alive.
"They've got a different battle on their hands right now and I don't know what's going to happen or where that sits.
"I don't think that war is going to be over in two months or six months. So right now, I wish him the best and I hope they all stay safe.
"I can't even comprehend what he has to deal with on a daily basis. Right now, my main focus is fighting MVP.
"I'll go there, take care of that, and then we'll see where the world is at after this fight and what Amosov is thinking.
"Is he going to come back or is it a complete mess over there?"
Before he can think about avenging his sole defeat, Storely must first do what no man has done and beat Page on home soil.
And he's under no illusions of the size of the task on his hands.
He said: "I know how talented he his. I know the speed and the distances [he operates at] gives a lot of people trouble.
"So I have to make sure that I am very light on my feet and firing on all cylinders and using my eyes and using that distance and making sure that I'm reading it correctly.
"I've watched a lot of his fights and I know there's a range not to play in that Derek Anderson played in. And that's silly. That's like MVP trying to wrestle with me, he's not going to do that.
"I respect him very much, but I know what I have to do to win and he knows what he has to do."
May is traditionally the start of the English summer, but Storely plans to bring a Storm to northwest London this weekend.
He said: "I don't think he realises how fast I am when it comes to my in-and-out fakes and getting to shots.
"I haven't felt his speed but I know it's fast because I can see it. But I don't think he realises how fast my fakes and getting from point a to point b is.
"I think my athleticism will surprise him a lot with my ability to close distance. So I have to close the distance and get him tired.
"But you can't play at MVP's distance, you just can't. You can't get sloppy in there.
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"And the guys that have and have talked back and started showboating, we've seen what he's done to them.
"You can't play his game. People get frustrated because they can't touch him so then they start to put their hands down and try to bring him in and that's when he cracks people."
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