JACK Marshman ends one chapter in his life tomorrow before starting another on Saturday after leaving the Army to fully focus on fighting in the UFC, writes Jason Batty.

Abertillery’s Marshman makes his seventh UFC appearance this weekend when he takes on unbeaten prospect Edmen Shahbazyan at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Despite fighting all over the world, this is the Welshman’s first outing in Sin City, and it comes on a stacked card which includes title defences for light-heavyweight Jon Jones and women’s bantamweight Amanda Nunes.

For 29-year-old Marshman, his battle with American-Armenian Shahbazyan at UFC 239 will arrive the day after he officially ends nearly 12 years as a full-time paratrooper.

“I’m out of the Army officially on Friday,” he said. “My last day in the Army, after 11-and-a-half years, is the day before my fight.

“They gave me the choice. They told me it was either the Army or the fight, and I took the fight.

“I had to be out of the Army before I fight. I was hoping to take half-retirement in November, but I got offered a fight on the biggest card in Vegas on international fight week.

“I just couldn’t say no.”

He added: “This is the biggest thing in my career by a long way. I have fought at Madison Square Garden, but this is even bigger.

“There are a lot of people going over for this, it should be bumping.”

International fight week is the most exciting seven days in the UFC calendar, with a week-long celebration taking place involving exhibitions and half of fame inductions.

Marshman is ready to embrace the experience and feels at his very best going into the fight.

“People keep telling me they can see a different side to me with my training,” he added.

“I have trained flat out, had a full camp, and I am in the best shape I have ever been in.

“This is the lightest I have ever been this close to a fight. It has all just come together for me.”

Marshman needs to be on top of his game when facing 21-year old Shahbazyan.

The hot prospect and bookies favourite is aiming to become the youngest UFC champion in history, and, coincidentally, it’s Jones’ record he will beat if it happens.

Shahbazyan trains at Glendale Fighting Club in California, home of former women’s world champion Ronda Rousey, who he sparred from the age of 13.

In his last fight he pulled off a stunning first-round finish against Charles Byrd.

“I think he’s quite confident in his striking because he’s 9-0, eight wins by first-round knockout,” said Marshman.

“I think as soon as I clip once, he’ll shoot for the takedown. I can see myself catching him quick and cold.

“I’m confident I’ll knock him out, he gets hit a lot, but I don’t think he’s been hit by anybody with big enough power.”

Marshman and light-heavyweight king Jones are no strangers, having trained and sparred together at the Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque a couple of years ago.

Jones is also fighting a former foe of Marshman this time around in Thiago Santos, who the Welshman lost to via a questionable stoppage in February 2017.

Jones has studied Marshman’s fight, having posted a video on social media of the moment the soldier sent the Brazilian crashing to the canvas.

It’s something Marshman takes satisfaction from, adding: “I see Jon posted a video of me dropping Santos. I take that as quite an honour, having the best fighter in the world seeing your fight.

“I put in a good performance against Santos, I dropped him, and now he is fighting for the lightweight title!”

“I am an honest fighter, I say if somebody caught me, but I was well able to continue that fight – but I wasn’t going to cry about it.”