PROFESSIONAL mixed martial arts fighter Kent Kauppinen is gearing up for one of the biggest bouts of his career next month when he takes on Fabian Edwards at Wembley Arena.

The 26-year-old middleweight, who has a record of 10 wins from 12 fights, will be part of a standout card organised by BAMMA on Friday, March 9.

A former non-league footballer for Chippenham Town and and Corsham Town, Kauppinen enters the ring with a wealth of semi-professional sporting experience having also competed in athletics, tennis and basketball at a high level as a youngster.

Now based in Chippenham, the former goalkeeper is taking nothing for granted against his latest opponent - who has an unbeaten record from his three professional fights so far.

“He (Edwards) is a good all-round fighter, there’s no doubt about that,” said Kauppinen.

“This is the first time I’ve been excited for a fight in a long time.

“Fighting in front of thousands of people is something worth getting excited about, and Wembley isn’t exactly a sports hall.

“It’s a huge card and I’ve got some good people coming to support me.

“With the fight being on TV, it’s a good chance to show viewers what I can do.”

Build up to the contest has been fuelled by mind games between the two fighters.

But Kauppinen claims he’s not interested in any small talk outside of the ring.

He added: “Fabian is not my biggest fan.

“I sent him a nice message not long ago explaining that I thought we got off on the wrong foot.

“He’s called me out on social media but I’m not there to be horrible. I’m not there for any of that.

“In football and across all sports, players have respect. It should be the same in MMA.

“It does annoy me that he’s trying to disrespect me but I’ll use it to my advantage.”

Having spent years between two posts, Kauppinen has adjusted to life in the ring well and boasts a six-fight winning record - the latest coming against Shaun Lomas in November.

Though defeats to Ali Arish (July 2010) and Jamie Sloane (January 2015) have prevented Kauppinen from establishing an unbeaten record, the 6ft fighter admitted he’s relishing the challenge of competing in front of thousands of fans.

He said: “Generally I’ve played sports at a high level.

“Because of that, I’ve always had pressure on me. You either have to accept the pressure or ride it out.

“Lots of people don’t like it but personally, I do, and so do the people I train with. It wouldn’t bother me if I fought in front of 10 people or 10,000.”

And entering the ring with a gameplan is not on Kauppinen’s mind.

“There’s not much point in having a gameplan,” he said.

“He could have one and it might get thrown out of the window in seconds, and vice versa.

“It’s important to be prepared for several situations as anything can happen.”