UFC newcomer Modestas Bukauskas is determined to show the world he has what it takes to be one of the best in his promotional debut. Bukauskas faces off against Brazilian submission specialist Vinicius Moreira in the second of four events scheduled to take place on ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi on July 15 – the card will be headlined by Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige.

The former Cage Warriors light-heavyweight champion signed for the UFC in January but due to the ongoing global pandemic has been forced to wait for his debut fight. Bukauskas and Moreira were supposed to face off in May, but those plans fell through, he explained while speaking exclusively to LowKickMMA.

“They got me a fight booked actually for May 16th, which was supposed to be in San Diego – that I was very looking forward to. As I signed the contract that’s when the COVID stuff started happening. So, all the excitement my fight was going to get announced, and then the next thing you know the whole world shuts down.”

The London based Lithuanian fighter is very aware of the grappling threat posed by Moreira but is confident he’ll be able to keep the fight standing and show the world he is “the next big thing”.

“From what I’ve seen he’s a very extensive and good grappler,” Bukauskas said.  “He takes his guys down to the floor and he really just suffocates them on the floor. So, he’s a very good jiu-jitsu guy and he’s very good at his craft and he’s very good at closing distance and getting in on his opponents. One area he’s lacking and of course he’s gonna be working on it, as anyone would do is in the striking department which is where I see being my main strength or my main attribute against him. Not only that. I’m going to stop the takedowns. I’m going to fire at will with my striking and suffocate him from stand-up so he can’t enforce any of his game. All respect to him but at the end of the day this is my time, this is me now coming up. I’m going to go out there and show them why I’m the next big thing.

Moreira comes into this fight on the back of three consecutive first-round defeats. The Brazilian is surely fighting for his UFC future on July 15 and Bukauskas is expecting the best version of Moreira but that will only bring out a better version of himself, he explained.

“I expect him to be coming out all guns blazing because it is the last fight on his contract. He wasn’t able to take the guys down in his last fights. Who knows what would’ve happened if he had managed to get them down and control those guys in those fights. Obviously, he hasn’t been able to so that’s going to be my goal in my fight to make sure he’s not able to do that. I feel like there’s no pressure. I know I’m better. I know I’ve got the skillset to go and beat him. All I’ve gotta do now is relax and go do the job.”

Do you think Modestas Bukauskas can be a future star at light-heavyweight?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.