Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

UFC: Te Huna hungry for busy schedule

James Te Huna walks off after losing the UFC Middleweight bout against Nate Marquardt. Photo / Getty
James Te Huna walks off after losing the UFC Middleweight bout against Nate Marquardt. Photo / Getty

James Te Huna will make his long-awaited return to the cage on Sunday and he plans on making multiple appearances in the octagon this year.

The Kiwi was last seen being submitted by Nate Marquardt (34-15-2) in the first round of the main event of UFC Fight Night 43 in Auckland in June, 2014.

After that bout, Te Huna (16-8) took time away from training as he went under the knife for shoulder surgery.

The veteran then went about running MMA seminars and working as a bricklayer, while he also helped out in juvenile centres. But something kept bubbling away inside him and that desire to compete returned.

"I started to get hungry," Te Huna told the Herald.

The 34-year-old could have taken a fight on the UFC 193 card in Melbourne last year but the timing wasn't right so when he was offered a bout at UFC Fight Night 85 in Brisbane this weekend, he jumped at the chance. Canadian Steve Bosse will serve as Te Huna's opponent.

"My plan is: I want to get three fights in this year," Te Huna said. "I want regular fights. This first fight against Steve Bosse, he's a good match-up for me."

Bosse (10-2) rattled off an eight-fight winning streak in regional promotions in North America before making his UFC debut in Florida last year.

That didn't go to plan though as he was knocked out by Thiago Santos (12-3) in the first round of their bout at UFC Fight Night 70 in June.

Bosse and Te Huna are now out to get their respective careers back on track.

"My body's feeling pretty good right now," Te Huna said. "I'm going to be 35 this year, so time is ticking on but I'm doing all the right things."

That included a renewed focus on recovery after the lengthy training sessions he put himself through during camp.

"Because I haven't fought in two years, I need to get timing back and to get timing back you need to do rounds and rounds [of sparring]."

After spending the past few years working with other coaches, Te Huna returned to the tutelage of fellow Sydney-based Kiwi Stevie Ashby.

While the bout against Marquardt was at middleweight, Te Huna said his return to light heavyweight this weekend was a must.

"I'll be at this weight for as long as my career's going to go. I'm a small light heavyweight but I'm injury-prone as well and to prevent injury, for me, I need to put on weight so I can get as big as I can."

UFC Fight Night 85 will be headlined by New Zealand heavyweight Mark Hunt (11-10-1) when he meets former champion Frank Mir (18-10).

Auckland featherweight Dan Hooker (12-6) will face Mark Eddiva (6-2) of the Philippines on the undercard.

Hooker was originally meant to be so low down the pecking order that his fight wasn't going to feature on the Sky TV broadcast in New Zealand. But a recent reshuffle has pushed him back in to the spotlight.

"For me, nothing changes, I'm just excited that the people who support me will be able to get better access to the fight," Hooker told the Herald. "I will step in that octagon and put on a dominant performance. The world will see that New Zealand fighters are the best in the world."

- NZ Herald

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