Despite recovering from knee surgery Tauranga fighter Kelvin Joseph could not turn down fighting for a world title at home.
The New Zealand MMA middleweight champion is in a featured fight at the inaugural Kickboxing and MMA World Cup event in Auckland on November 30. The World Kickboxing Network, with Team Player Events will run the event, connecting the sports of Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts.
Joseph will take on experienced Brazilian fighter Roan Carnieno for the WKN MMA middleweight world title.
Joseph had surgery on his knee in March and said he was focused on recovery for November's fight.
"Right now, it is recovering to where I am fit and strong. I am not where I want to be at the moment but I have six months to get there. I have a great physio on board and I am working very hard. Technically I have what I need for the fight, I know what I need to do to obtain success," Joseph said.
This time last year, Joseph fought against Bob Armstrong in defence of his New Zealand middleweight title and he went into the fight with a broken hand.
"Everyone told me not to and I chose to - I wanted to fight. I had faced adversity before and I had a plan to work around it."
His plan worked as Joseph used a rear naked choke on Armstrong to end the bout after just 2.5 minutes. But in the aftermath of that match Joseph found out he needed the knee surgery, but did not want the recovery period to be over summer. So he had it this year and now is preparing for this next battle. Joseph takes a 15-0 record into the fight against Carnieno, but he knows it will be tough.
"He is a Brazilian legend and his jiu jitsu is off the charts. I have seen him put some great fighters to sleep.
"I have victories standing and on the ground and, being a Roger Gracie black belt, you would say my grappling is neat as well. It will be interesting. It is not like the old days, you have to be good at everything, but more importantly you have to be able to mix them all together and that is an art in itself. Fighting against the cage is important too, it can be your best friend or your greatest enemy."
Joseph's fight will be on the final day of the three-day event which includes competitors from around the world competing in a tournament where the last fighter standing will crowned WKN world champion.
The final day is headlined by Brazilian legend Antonio Silva taking on Frenchman Gregory Tony for the WKN Super Heavyweight Kickboxing World Championship.
Steve Oliver from Team Player Events sees this event as a reflection of the continued growth in popularity across the globe.
"To have an event of this magnitude is huge for one discipline, but for two? Both kickboxing and MMA World Titles at one event is history in the making, the best athletes combat sports has to offer, competing on our home soil," he said.
Oliver said there would be 30 Amateur World Cup Titles and two Professional World Titles up for grabs, putting New Zealand on the world stage in martial arts.
Kickboxing and MMA World Cup:
Trusts Arena, Auckland