WELTERWEIGHT MMA champion Walter Gahadza cannot wait to end his nine-month injury-enforced exile from the cage tomorrow night.

The unbeaten Southend fighter will be making his third Ultimate Warrior Challenge title defence at the 23 edition of the popular mixed martial arts promotion.

Gahadza is raring to go when he takes on Italian fighter Alessandro Botti in front of his home crowd in Eastwood.

The 26-year-old former Belfairs School pupil broke two fingers while grappling during training for a title defence in Newcastle but is now fully recovered.

“I can’t wait because it has been very frustrating for me because it has been such a long time since I fought,” said Gahadza, who is a member at Westcliff’s Team Sure Grip gym.

“I’ve had 13 professional bouts and have never been injured and heading into the biggest fight of my life I got injured.

“It was very hard for me to deal with but I’ve overcome it now and am excited to get back into the cage.”

Gahadza had been due to fight Ryan Scope to defend his Made4TheCage crown but was forced to pull out due to his injury.

That meant his last bout was a win by a unanimous decision against Glaswegian fighter Alan Johnston to win the Made4TheCage welterweight title in Newcastle.

But he is now determined to make up for lost time when he faces 25-year-old Botti, who has had nine wins and three defeats and arrives at David Lloyd Southend unbeaten his last three bouts.

Gahadza – who is nicknamed the Sniper due to his reputation of finishing fights quickly – is not expecting an easy time tomorrow.

“It’s going to be tough because he is a fighter with a decent record,” he said. “I have seen a clip of him fighting but nothing that big but it’s going to be a tough fight.

“He can fight and he can stand up and grapple so I have just got to be on point and fight my A game. “When I first started I was going in therer hungry and finishing the fight but as I have matured as a fighter I have learned you have to work yourself to a finish.

“If I can finish it I will go in for the kill, but if not I will take my time and enjoy it.”

Gahadza has been tipped as a future star of the Ultimate Fighting Challenge, the best-known MMA promotion. His manager Dan Burzotta says the welterweight is closing in on a UFC deal but Gahadza says he is in no rush.

“Every fight is going to get tougher but I relish the fact that people come to fight me. I see that as a feather in my cap,” he said.

“I am learning something new with every fight and if UFC called me up tomorrow and offered me a contract I would be quite happy and I would go in there and do the job.

“If I got that opportunity then I would quite happily take it but I’m heading in the right direction and am in no rush.

“I have not fought for nine months because I got injured and because of that there is a lot of pressure on me.

“But I’m just looking forward to putting on a good show tomorrow at the moment.”

UWC23 will be the first time the south-east Essex promotion has been at the David Lloyd centre in Snakes Lane after switching from its former home at Garon Park in Southend.

Gahadza said it was a new chapter for the promotion but the change of venue will not affect him or his TSG colleagues on the card.

“When you are competiting it is still just a cage and you have to concentrate on your fighting,” he said.

Nine fighters from TSG are scheduled to fight at the show Among them are Polish fighter Leszek Krakowski, who will be aiming to secure his fourth win in the cage when he takes on Londoner Sean Redgrave in a 73kg contest.

Canvey fighter Mike Hales will be making his UWC debut while fellow TSG member Vegin Sokli will also make his first appearance for the club. Tickets for UWC 23 Ressurection cost £30 and are available online from www.ultimatewarriorchallenge.com