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UFC star Manuwa gives West Ham's Cole striking lesson

ESPN staff
October 20, 2012
Watch Jimi Manuwa train with Carlton Cole

Victorious on his UFC debut and in possession of a flawless 12-0 record - Jimi Manuwa is a winner. Talent, dedication and hard work have all played their part in his meteoric rise, but so has an unmistakeable winning mentality.

Upon arrival at West Ham United's training complex this week, Manuwa was asked what football team he supports A broad grin accompanied his answer: "Whoever's top of the table at the time."

The 'Poster Boy' may not have had any Hammers pictures on his wall before his trip to East London, but having traded tips (and blows) with striker Carlton Cole, Manuwa is now a born-again Hammer.

The respect is mutual. Like many of his team-mates, Cole is a keen UFC fan, and wanted to learn a few trade secrets from its latest star.

Manuwa was happy to show Cole the ropes as team-mate Jack Collison and West Ham's strength and conditioning coach Mathew Monte-Colombo looked on.

The Hammers' Mark Noble also made a brief appearance. According to Cole, Noble, "used to box as a kid." The midfielder showed a good survival instinct when he saw the size of Manuwa. "He's too big for me!" said 'Nobes' before making a swift exit.

Manuwa was fresh from his impressive showing at UFC Nottingham where he demolished Kyle Kingsbury inside two rounds. Manuwa told ESPN that it has been "a bit of a whirlwind" since he made his UFC debut. But the former UCMMA light-heavyweight champion is determined to make the most of his opportunity.

"It's great to be in the UFC. That's what I've always worked towards," Manuwa said. "It's going to be even harder to stay in there… I've got to train even harder than I've trained before. I'm looking forward to it. I always feel good after I've trained. If I don't train I get really frustrated."

Manuwa is happy to admit that he's still learning, and is seeking advice from different types of sportsmen. He was keen to pick Cole's brains about how to maintain speed and agility, and says the forward could be a fighter if he chose to be.

"Carlton's got good potential. He's very athletic and he learns quickly."

While Manuwa's brand of power punching may not go down so well in the Premier League, Hammers hitman Cole certainly seemed to enjoy the opportunity to learn what it takes to be a UFC striker.

You can see more in our fly on the wall video…

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