COREY Fry's introduction to MMA wasn't so much a sliding doors moment but more like a wrong door mix-up.

It was back as a body conscious teenager that Fry decided he wanted to join a boxing club to help bulk up - but he walked in to the wrong gym.

Undeterred and spotting a few familiar faces, the then 14-year-old hung around and before the session was out he pulled off a martial arts move that stunned coaches.

Fast forward 14 years and Fry has just won the biggest fight of his fledgling professional career, beating the experienced and home favourite, Deniz Ilbay, in front of 20,000 partisan German fans. Not a bad way to mark your first fight for Oktagon - one of Europe's biggest MMA promoters.

It hasn't been an easy road but Fry knows exactly where the journey began - even if it started with a wrong turn.

"I was a skinny kid and I was really conscious about it so I decided I wanted to beef up a bit and I thought joining a boxing club would be the thing to do," said Blackburn-born Fry. "There was a club called Mick's I was heading for but unfortunately, or fortunately, I went in the wrong club."

The wrong club proved to be the right club and Fry was soon impressing Rob Freedman, head coach of Blackburn Predators Mixed Martial Arts.

"I was on the mats sparring and I did a hold called an Oma Plata. Rob was blown away and asked me how I knew such a move. I told him I learnt playing MMA on my XBox!"

Fry continued to train, work and flourish under Freedman making his name for himself as a hard-punching featherweight in the amateur ranks.

But they were tough times as he was juggling training, holding down a full time job at school for children with behaviour difficulties while also coming to terms with being a young father - he became a dad at the age of just 17-years-old.

"It was hard, I was either working or training so hardly seeing the kids," said Fry whose two sons, Oscar and Hendrix, are now aged 11 and eight respectively.

"So it's been a tough journey. I’ve got two kids and had the very early so I have to deal with the pressure of bringing up a young family, working and trying to get on in MMA.

Fry and his partner and wife-to-be Ashleigh Woods, decided to take a hit and put all their eggs in to one basket.

"I decided to concentrate on MMA full time," added Fry a former pupil at Witton High School. "I am very confident in my own ability but to get to that next level I knew I had to concentrate fully on the sport. Me and Ashleigh spoke about it for a long time, we did have to take a big hit financially but now I am making a living out of the sport."

Having spent eight or nine years with Predators, Fry made the move to the North West Fight Academy in Preston - training under coaches Ste Nightingale, Aaron Aby and Matt Bolton - where he could continue to train and compete at an elite level.

He now has seven professional fights under his belt - that memorable night in Cologne last month the stand-out moment to date.

"Everything that I hoped would happen in the fight, did happen," said Fry. "It was perfect.

"Usually, you have a little bit of self doubt before a fight but this one, I felt really relaxed and confident because I knew I was in the best possible shape and my training camp had gone really well.

"I was happy with the way the fight went. I am usually known for my knockouts but this was a really tough fight, he hit me with a lot of big shots and I took them then got the win with a submission.

"To fight in front of 20,000 people was incredible.

"I said before the fight that all the pressure was him. He was fighting in front of his own crowd, he was the big favourite expecting to win but "I went in to his own back yard and got the job done.

"It was great doing it in my first fight with Oktagon."

Despite the plaudits and support from family, friends, coaches and sparring partners, Fry said it can be a lonely sport - both mentally and physically.

Every hour is a new hour so don't spend that one worrying about the last

Fry clearly has long-term goals but he knows the most important thing is the next fight - the here and now.

"I am ambitious and the ultimate aim would be to become a UFC fighter," he said. "That has to be the target for any MMA fighter, anyone who says it isn’t then they are in the wrong business.

"But at the same time, all I can concentrate on is what is happening now. It’s a cliché but I have to just take it one fight at a time and take it from there.

n Corey Fry would like to thank his local sponsors: Jordan Smith, Ricky Birkbeck (Carters Facilities), Carl Molyneux (Red Rose Insurance Solicitors), Jordan Kelly (UK Stove Installers, Manchester), Satans Slaves MC Lancashire, Chapter, LADS United Blackburn/Darwen (Adam Gardner, Mark Johnson), Grafix Tattoo Studio, Blackburn, Christopher Kirk (Altius Sport Performance).