From cleaning gyms to Bellator world-title challenger

Adam Borics fights for a Bellator world title on Saturday
Venue: Long Beach Arena, USA Date: Saturday, 1 October
Coverage: Live coverage on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app from 23:55 BST, with highlights on BBC Three at 20:00 BST on Sunday 2 October.

Adam Borics has the chance to make history when he takes on Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire for the featherweight title at Bellator 286 on Saturday.

Bellator has never had a Hungarian champion and Boric’s journey from Sirok, which has a population of just 2,000 people, to the main event in Long Beach, California, has been anything but smooth.

He flew to the United States in 2016, aged 23, with a 9-0 record after tearing through the regional and European scene but “no money”.

He travelled to Florida and visited Henri Hooft’s Combat Club gym where he made an immediate impression on the legendary Dutch trainer, who has worked with Kamaru Usman, Luke Rockhold and Rashad Evans.

“I spent three weeks there and he (Hooft) said ‘you have to stay here because you’re going to be a world champion’,” Borics tells BBC Sport.

Fortunately, with his name starting to garner some attention after just a three-week stay in the States, Borics was approached by a management team.

“It was a typical American dream story, two managers came to me and said ‘we are going to help you make the move’,” he says.

“It was the perfect timing, Bellator was coming to Hungary and they called me to fight. I signed a one-fight contract, won that fight and got a long-term contract.

“So I got a visa and then I was able to move to the US. It was crazy.”

After earning a long-term deal, Borics, who had been holding down a full-time job and studying physical education at university in Hungary, came to the conclusion that he needed to be in the US to achieve his ambition of becoming a world champion.

“Financially it was very hard and I remember one day I decided to stop university and just focus on fighting,” he says.

“At that time it was the biggest thing in my life, those two managers helped me out in the first year because it was crazy when I moved there.”

His contract with Bellator meant a visa was immediately issued, but that wasn’t the case for his girlfriend.

That was just the first of several obstacles that he had to overcome when looking to embark on a new chapter in his life.

“We had to marry in two weeks. We just signed the papers in Hungary,” Borics says.

“After two weeks I broke my hand so I couldn’t fight for almost a year and a week later a hurricane arrived.”

With fighting off the table, Borics had no regular source of income so, along with his wife, he offered to help out around the gym to make ends meet.

Borics says: “We were cleaning the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for two years and it was really hard.

Adam Borics kisses his wife Zsófia Perge
Borics had a quick-fire wedding so his partner Zsofia could join him in the US

“I remember sitting with my wife in front of the hospital [after confirmation his hand was broken] and we were just crying.

“I was training twice a day with a broken hand, I was running, I was swimming, I was kicking the bag. My two managers, Alex and Sam, were helping with everything and without them I wouldn’t be here.

“They really believed in me and now here we are and I’ll be thankful forever for their help.”

Borics believes that period of his life prepared him for the challenges ahead.

“It made me stronger and made me more humble,” he says.

“I’ll never forget where I came from, I’m not coming from a rich background and I had to work for everything, so that’s why I am who I am today.”

Borics takes on the legendary ‘Pitbull’ at Bellator 286, aiming to become the first Nungarian world champion in Bellator or UFC.

With an overall record of 18-1 and riding a four-fight win streak, Borics says he isn’t fazed by the prospect of facing the 35-year-old former two-weight champion.

“It makes me motivated because he’s the number one pound-for-pound guy but I want to be the best and I’m ready to become world champion,” he says.

“I feel this is the right time. I feel I am better than him everywhere and I’m very confident. I really respect what he did and he’s been a great champion but his reign will come to an end.”

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