LONDON – Jai Herbert’s UFC start hasn’t been easy, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

The former Cage Warriors champion was stopped in his first two octagon appearances by Francisco Trinaldo and Renato Moicano, but was able to rebound with a first-round finish of Khama Worthy this past October.

“It’s tough at the top,” Herbert told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 204 media day. “It was a tough debut and a tough second fight, but you know what, I’m glad it went the way it did. I’m glad I had them tough fights, and I got straight in the UFC and actually went with the guys like, this is what it’s all about.

“So it made me improve as a fighter very rapidly, gave me my character. Character-building really and then when I got that win, eventually over Karma, it was relief more than anything. I just felt a relief, it felt like I’m finally here. It’s finally time for people to see what I can do.”

His journey won’t get any easier as he draws unbeaten prospect Ilia Topuria (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) to kick off Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 204 main card, which streams on ESPN+, but Herbert (11-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) is excited for another stern challenge.

“He’s got decent boxing, he’s very good on the ground, his jiu-jitsu and that,” Herbert said. “They’re all tough tests. That’s what I’m here for. That’s what I started this sport for, to test myself so I’m prepared. They just need to prepare for me as well. Trust me, it’s going down.”

Watch the video of Herbert’s complete pre-fight media availability above.

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