Kiwi middleweight James Te Huna will headline New Zealand's first UFC show in Auckland at Vector Arena on June 28. Te Huna will write an exclusive blog for nzherald.co.nz each Wednesday during the final month of his training camp as he builds up for his bout with American Nate Marquardt at UFC Fight Night 43.
A mouthguard is an important tool in an MMA fighter's kit bag.
It provides obvious protection but during the lead up to my last fight, I was stuck wearing two mouthguards - top and bottom - because I had braces on.
I will never make excuses for my loss to Shogun in December last year but wearing two mouthguards made my build-up tougher because every time I was clipped in sparring my jaw was rocked as the mouthguards slipped across each other.
I got braces mid-way through last year, after my fight with Glover Teixeira in Las Vegas at UFC 160, and, thankfully, I only needed to wear the bottom ones for six months.
They were taken off just before last Christmas and it's been great building up for my fight against Nate Marquardt at UFC Fight Night 43 in Auckland later this month only wearing a top guard.
I've still got the top braces on but they will be gone by the end of the year and I should have straight teeth then.
You might wonder why I never got them when I was younger but I was always worried about being teased growing up if I had braces so I decided to wait until I was older and luckily, my mates haven't given me a hard time about them either.
My team and I are comfortably settled in Auckland now and with only two-and-a-half weeks until fight night, I am feeling really good.
I told you last week about my new striking coach Mark Kinney and things have been progressing well with him.
One of the best things about being in Auckland is I have been able to do my Brazilian jiu-jitsu work at Oliver MMA under Steve Oliver.
Steve is Mark Hunt's head trainer and also helped me prepare for my first MMA fight back in 2003; since then we have always been close. Steve is a guy I trust and working with him ahead of the biggest fight of my career has boosted my confidence.
My sparring partners and I have also been getting through some good rounds and I will tell you more about them next week.
My weight is where I want it to be and I feel good about dropping to middleweight for the first time in my UFC career and remain confident I will have no troubles making the 84kg limit.
I should have mentioned it last week but congratulations to Auckland's Dan Hooker for securing a spot on this month's fight card at Vector Arena.
Dan is a promising Kiwi fighter and it's great to see a talented local get a chance in front of his home fans and I know he will put on a show at featherweight against Ian Entwistle.
Dan has also proven you can get an opportunity without heading abroad and he has earned his shot with some strong local performances. I hope he helps the Kiwis make a great start to the night on June 28.
Catch you next Wednesday.