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Themba Gorimbo talks The Rock’s career support, believes he’ll be champion in 2024

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Themba Gorimbo is a man on a mission.

This past Saturday, Gorimbo had the best performance of his career, knocking out Pete Rodriguez in just 32 seconds at UFC Vegas 85. This followed up Gorimbo’s win this past May over Takashi Sato, where the Zimbabwean fighter caught the eye of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Needless to say, it’s been a life-changing past 12 months for Gorimbo, who believes that everything that has happened is proof that he’s destined for still greater things.

“I did ask myself [why me], but I always say, this is not me, this is God,” Gorimbo told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “That’s what I say all the time. And I say God wouldn’t do this for me so that I can fail. That’s why I was so confident in this last fight. Even leading up to the fight, I’ve never trained like this in my entire career, and I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to top it, to work harder than this. …

“There are very few stories like this, where someone uplifts you the way he did for me. Just being in America, for me, without the house and everything, just being America is a blessing, coming from where I come from, Bikita, it’s a rural area in Zimbabwe. Maybe in that whole district, maybe there’s a few of us in America. In my village, I know for sure I’m the only one here. So it is a big thing just to be here and now to have someone like ‘The Rock’ supporting me being here, you just know that this is not me, this is not my doing. I just remind myself every day that this is not me, this is God.”

Johnson’s support can certainly get you a long way. The WWE and Hollywood star bought Gorimbo a house and remains in his corner, even giving Gorimbo counsel as he struggled with his newfound fame and the backlash that goes with it.

“I’m a human being and I’m emotional,” Gorimbo said. “And if someone comes to me and says things, you look back like, maybe? You start questioning yourself as a person. It was really bothering me, and sometimes I would cry by myself, because you think to yourself — it’s just a difficult situation I was in. …

“Luckily, I talked to [Johnson] as well. He spoke to me about all this. Actually, he called me and he told me that he foresaw all these things as well. He told me things are going to be like this from now on. ‘You’ve got to be like this.’ Obviously it’s easier said than done, because he’s been there too, feeling those expressions.”

Ultimately, Gorimbo believes that his story ends with a world championship. Only 2-1 in UFC and still well outside of the rankings, Gorimbo knows that many don’t believe it’s possible for him. But he believes that not only will it happen – it will happen sooner than anyone could imagine.

“With self belief, hard work, and you surround yourself with the right people, the sky is the limit,” Gorimbo said. “I think that’s my life, that’s my story, and that’s why when I tell people I’m going to become the UFC welterweight champion in 2024 — it does not look like it, and everyone criticizes, but my story and my life is not normal, even to myself. I don’t think I’m going to have a normal path to the title, but before you know if I’ll be there, and I’ll be taking the title and the world will then be like, ‘Oh, wow, that guy was real.’”

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