Shem Rock was on the run for six years before returning to the UK – and in a twist of fate he's now fighting a former police officer.
The 29-year-old who hails from Liverpool is now a rising star in Oktagon MMA and has been booked to take on lightweight rival and former officer of the law Jaroslav Pokorny in their first ever UK event at Manchester's AO Arena on November 4.
Rock admitted to dealing weed in his teens but was wrongly arrested for aggravated burglary before being bailed by mistake – and decided to run before his eventual arrest and subsequent acquittal after spending six months at HMP Liverpool.
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Already a big name in MMA with a professional record of 9-1-1, he trains alongside Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann at Next Gen MMA and has set his sights on Pokorny after a personal war of words.
Speaking to Daily Star Sport on fightweek, Rock said: "I don't know if he was trying to build up the hype or he's just a weirdo. He's saying things like he knows me, he's saying some s*** about my personal life and about me as a person.
"And I'll tell you straight, the guy's an idiot lad and he was a police officer so I don't like him – but I couldn't tell you how he likes his toast buttered, but the way he's speaking is like he knows me lad."
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Pokorny was due to fight Rock back in July but Jan Malach stepped in against the Liverpool man to lose by first-round submission.
That didn't stop the Czech lightweight from slamming Rock's past in the media which led to the rebooking of their bout on UK soil, on a card that also features Jake Quickenden's MMA debut.
Rock is ready to steal the show not far from his home of Liverpool – with his biggest concern the status of his opponent.
He added: "I just hope he shows up on the night lad and he doesn't do a runner. I've got a feeling he'll do some daft s*** like not make weight. I just want to get him in there."
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Rock is more confident than ever having agreed a multi-fight Oktagon deal while training in one of the leading gyms in UK MMA.
He added: "You're elevated every day and you might come in one day and be a bit sore or you might come in one day and you don't feel up to it but you're going to find out that day real quick that if you don't pull your socks up.
"So every day you have to come in on your A-game and every day, everyone in the room is constantly trying to one up each other in a good way so we are always improving."
Tickets for OKTAGON 48 are on sale via TICKETMASTER, with the live PPV available to watch on OKTAGON.TV and DAZN.
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