Fighting on the Australian and New Zealand regional scene is an arduous task, to earn the number one spot in the region is no small feat. For arguably the current holder of that title, Kieran Joblin, it has been a long road fighting the best that both countries have to offer.
Despite his current standing at the top end, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the fighter from Christchurch, New Zealand. Losing three of his first four fights, Joblin admits he didn’t take the sport serious enough to make it to the top when he first started. It wasn’t until he walked into the doors of Strikeforce Canterbury and linked up with local MMA legend Karl Webber that things started to change.
“When Kieran first turned up at Strikeforce Canterbury, he’d had a pretty average run and to be honest a very average record.” Webber told Fight News Australia.
He made the decision to join our pro fight team, step up his training and give it his best shot. I told him I could open the doors for him, but it would be up to him to go through them. From that conversation forward he has never taken a backward step, going through each one and facing whoever I put in front of him.
It is a testament to Joblin’s character and the fighter that he is to suffer those early defeats and get to where he is today. Joblin has amassed a record and list of titles arguably unparalleled by a fighter not signed to a major promotion on this side of the world. Recent achievements include winning the XFC Australia lightweight title late last year. He is also the New Zealand Shuriken lightweight champion, Carnage in the Cage lightweight champion and WKF Oceania lightweight champion.
Boasting a 20-7 professional record and an 80% finishing rate, Joblin has won 9 of his last 10 fights. The lone loss in this time coming at the hands of current UFC fighter Alex Ricci, on one week’s notice and a trip to Canada for the trouble.
A full-time stonemason, ‘The Stonecutter’ as he is known when he enters the cage, Joblin is the personification of the grinding fighter on the Australian and New Zealand regional scene. Juggling work and family commitments while constantly turning up to the gym, day after day, year after year, all for the love of the sport and the ultimate goal of representing his country on the biggest stage.
With whispers swirling of the UFC’s return to Auckland late last year, Joblin decided his chances of being on the card would be best served taking a fight, rather than waiting and hoping for the best. Having fought six times in 2016, Joblin is not one to stay inactive.
“The last few months there’s been the talk of it but nothing for sure. I didn’t want to sit around and wait and then when they come I’ve had six months on the sideline.” Joblin told Fight News Australia.
With that in mind, Joblin was given the opportunity to fight undefeated Perth native Jack Becker at Hex Fight Series 8 on March 31st in Melbourne. It’s a challenge that he happily accepted, with the full knowledge that his status as one of the pound-for-pound best would be on the line.
With the UFC now confirmed for his home country on June 11, Joblin understands nothing short of a win will suffice.
I don’t want to be off my game and let him take it all away from me, I won’t let it happen. It is quite a bit of pressure, it’s a must win basically a must finish fight. If I go in there and win on points it won’t hurt my chances, but I don’t think it will help them, so I’ve got to go in there and get a quick sub or a quick TKO which would really help. But the guy’s not going to just fall over, he wants to win as well.
For the Kiwi, an impressive win would hopefully be the final nail in the coffin to get the elusive UFC contract he has long wanted. It would be a dream come true for the 28-year-old, to represent his hometown of Christchurch on the biggest stage.
“After I win this fight in Hex, hopefully on Sunday the phone rings.
“It would be pretty cool to be the first South Islander and first Christchurch fighter, it would be awesome to get that honor of doing that, it would be sweet.”
For the small Christchurch MMA community that has been through a lot in recent years, nothing would be sweeter than seeing one of their own make that octagon walk.