There have been times, Chris Duncan admits, he’s has to pinch himself to remind himself of the fact that as soon as he sets foot in the octagon tonight, he will be able to call himself a UFC fighter.

But on other occasions he feels entirely at home, so long has he been striving for, and believing in, this ultimate goal that he is on the verge of achieving.

This evening, in London, Duncan (left) will make his UFC debut and for the 29-year-old from Stirlingshire, the very top of his sport is where he always believed he belonged.

“It feels like a dream come true to now be in the UFC but it also feels very natural to me, it feels like I’m meant to be here. I’ve dreamt about this for so long so I’ve always been heading to this point,” he says. “It’s definitely a dream come true but I’ve worked bloody hard for this so it’s not happened by luck. I do sometimes need to remind myself I absolutely deserve to be at this level.”

Duncan will face Venuzuela’s Omar Morales on his UFC debut and while he admits he only knows a few details about his opponent, a 10-week training camp at Florida’s American Top Team gym with some of the best fighters in the business has put him in the kind of shape that leaves him with no doubt as to who will get the win tonight.

“I’m always in good shape but having been over in Florida, I’m feeling amazing,” he says.

“The quality and quality of training is incredible; it’s really the cream of the crop here and it’s the best gym in the world.

“I don’t know too much about Morales but I know he’s on a two-fight losing streak, which is going to be increased to three after he fights me.”

Duncan’s had quite a journey to get to this point. His first serious job, as a shepherd, is a far cry from the vocation he now makes a living from but despite his somewhat unusual career trajectory, he has long harboured ambitions of becoming an MMA fighter.

And as he prepares to make his debut on the biggest stage of them all, his thoughts drift to his mum, who passed away the very week he made his MMA competitive debut in 2014. He admits her memory will give him that extra motivation as he prepares to take on Morales.

“I think about my mum every day,” he says. “Especially when I’m away from home and you’ve got that bit more time, I think about her and it’s nice to have that spiritual attachment to somebody.

“I use it as motivation. I’m sure she’d be proud of me and she’d have been my absolute number one fan throughout this.”

There is no shortage of incentives for Duncan to win on his debut, but a major one is the £50,000 win bonus waiting for the victor.

With a one-year-old daughter at home, the lengthy pre-fight training camps across the Atlantic are not easy. But for Duncan, who made it to the UFC through the Dana White Contender Series last year, victory tonight will make his countless sacrifices worthwhile and will allow him to give up his job as a personal trainer to focus fully on climbing the UFC ladder.

“My training camp this time has cost around £6,000 but I’m also still paying for everything back home too so it’s not cheap. But you can’t out a price on greatness and you can’t out a price on performance,” he says.

“It’s very hard being away from my daughter for so long but you’ve never heard anyone who’s been successful say they’ve just coasted through life – it’s all about the hussle and the sacrifice so I’m on the right road and I’m just looking forward to getting in there and showing what I can do.”

As part of an exclusive group of Scottish men and women who can call themselves UFC fighters, Duncan admits a layer of pressure is now removed by reaching this point.

He has got no intention of taking his foot off the pedal anytime soon and is quite clear that his UFC debut only serves to mark the beginning of what he is certain will be a long and fruitful career at the top of this sport.

“This is very much just the start for me – I’m not here just to be a number, I’m here to really be noticed and put on a performance every time and I want to make sure everyone knows I’m one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC,” he says. “A lot of guys in the UFC don’t have that spark and that charisma that I do and so they don’t get paid well.

“You’ve got to show the UFC what you’re worth and show them what you can bring and that you can put bums on seats and if you do that, they’ll pay you well.

“This is my shot to make it – I want to be able to provide for my family by doing this so that’s a big motivation.”

Also in action on the same card in London this evening is Joanne Wood, who is on the comeback trail having lost her last bout a year ago.

The flyweight from Ayrshire faces Luana Carolina from Brazil with Leon Edwards against Kamaru Usman the headline fight.