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22nd Mar 2021

From homelessness to the brink of securing a contract with the UFC

Six years ago, Cage Warriors fighter James Webb had no job, money or home, sleeping on the floor of the gym. He now stands on the brink of a UFC contract

Alex Roberts

Six years ago, James Webb had no job, money or home.

He had recently moved to Dublin to further his MMA career, but found himself sleeping on the floor of the gym.

“There was a little coaches room with a sofa bed there. The lads used to call it the casting couch.

“All I had was this little leather sofa. I didn’t have any money or even any bed clothing.”

Friends would invite him around for the occasional hot meal, but the lack of a safety net began to chip away at his wellbeing.

“The lads used to call me Gollum,” he said.

“It was like I was in my own little cave. I literally lived in this room where there was no window or light. Mould began to build up over time and started to affect my breathing during the night.”

Webb felt like throwing in the towel on numerous occasions and moving back to Essex. But he decided to stick at it.

Severing ties and moving away in the pursuit of your passion isn’t for everyone.

Prior to making it in the UFC, Darren Till followed a similar path and admitted you need to sacrifice a lot and accept a degree of selfishness. Webb agrees.

“Everyone deserves a bit of selfishness, you know.

“I don’t think anyone should be told they can’t go and do something. I didn’t do it because I’m selfish, I wanted to better my life.”

Webb reached his lowest point when he suffered defeat in his first professional fight.

“I felt like such a bum, you know.”

Now 31, he was right not to have given up. Fast forward to 2021, in the midst of a global pandemic, Webb stands on the brink of glory – and securing a contract with the UFC.

He went on to win his following five professional bouts and recently toppled Craig White, stopping the former UFC man in the first round.

“That’s my level,” he says. “He was just out of the UFC and I controlled him.”

In a sport renowned for generating heat, Webb doesn’t believe in trash talk.

“They’re all great guys, I respect anyone who fights.”

On Friday, Webb went up against Matthew Bonner at Cage Warriors 121.

Victory, and more importantly the manner in which it is achieved, could have opened the door to the biggest federation on the planet, but it was not to be. Bonner defeated him in the second round to deliver a tough set-back.

Knowing Webb, though, he won’t be down for long.