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20th Apr 2018

There’s a lot more to former UFC star’s very impressive physical transformation than meets the eye

Nicolas Dalby's ripped physique is only part of the change

Ben Kiely

The last time the UFC rolled into Dublin, Nicolas Dalby played a starring role

In 2015, Nicolas Dalby and Darren Till entered the Octagon in the 3Arena undefeated. In an extremely rare occurrence, they managed to slug it out for three rounds and emerge without adding an entry to their loss columns.

Till was a relative unknown at the time while former Cage Warriors champion Dalby was the bookies’ favourite. However, the Till fans in the crowd shared the then-22-year-old’s supreme confidence. Rumblings circled of the prospect’s supposedly outrageous leg kick knockout record in Muay Thai. If you talked to one of the believers, you’d be convinced that the oddsmakers got it wrong with Till. For the first two rounds, this assessment appeared to be correct.

Till knocked Dalby around the Octagon. He was easily winning the striking exchanges and had he moved in for the kill, there was a sense that he was going to get it. Dalby sat down on the stool before entering the final round knowing that he was well behind on the judges’ scorecards.

A lesser fighter would have given up or, at the very least, lost confidence after being beaten up for the duration of the fight. Dalby is made of sterner stuff though. He came out swinging in round three and once Till hurt his shoulder, the smell of blood filled his nostrils. Dalby put such a beating on Till that he managed to salvage a majority draw. This earned both warriors a $50,000 bonus for the Fight of the Night accolade.

Nicolas Dalby

Downward spiral

Since that fight, Till and Dalby have gone on vastly different trajectories. Three dominant victories in as many appearances made Till a star. After he annihilated Donald Cerrone, the UFC saw dollar signs. They brought an event to Liverpool and placed Till in the headline act against number one contender Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. A win all but guarantees the Englishman a title shot.

Dalby, on the other hand, got cut by the promotion after going on a two-fight skid. Anyone fool could see what was going on in the battles he lost inside the cage, but internally, he was losing a different kind of war. In his own words, he had been ‘battling a deep depression which resulted in alcoholism, apathy and hurtful behaviour towards the people I hold the dearest.’

Bouncing back

He shut himself off from the world, turned to the bottle and gained quite a bit of weight. In a powerful interview with MMA Fighting’s Chuck Midenhall, he explained that a “really bad experience that I don’t feel like getting into” gave him the push he needed to deal with his depression. He began talking more to friends and started seeing a psychotherapist.

As he started getting better, the weight shed off him. He recently uploaded a post to Instagram showing his incredible physical transformation. In the space of four months, he dropped 20kg. While he’s happy with his physique, it’s the shape his mind is in that he’s most proud of.

“No, what I really care about is my mental health. Getting to a state of peace, balance and predominantly positive thoughts has been the most important goal I wanted to reach. And I’ve done it! For the first time in around 4 years I feel truly happy and full of enthusiasm again. It’s like I’ve been locked inside a sauna or steam bath for 1,5y and I’ve finally found my way out and now I’m getting that first BIG breath of fresh air. Couldn’t have done it without the most fantastic girlfriend I could ever wish for and some truly amazing friends, both old and new. Thank all of you for staying by my side and helping me get out of the hole.”

Dalby makes his comeback against Carlo Pedersoli Jr. at Cage Warriors 93 set to go down in Gothenburg, Sweden on April 28.

If you or anyone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you may find the following links helpful.

The Samaritans:
Aware (Depression & Bi-Polar Disorder):
National Suicide Helpline (Pieta House):
Alcoholics Anonymous Ireland :