PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As the popularity of mixed martial arts grows in western Pennsylvania, so do the number of fighters finding the success.

Ambridge native Chris Dempsey (11-3-0, 1-2-0 in UFC) doesn’t want to take a step backward in his fighting career Saturday. He is on the card for UFC’s Fight Night event in London, England.

“It’s definitely a make or break fight for both us,” Dempsey told KDKA-TV Friday. “We both have the same record in the UFC. I think this is one of those fights they put together where winner stays in and the loser gets the boot.”

Dempsey hopes this is not the end of his road to MMA success. Before he started fighting, he was a two-time Division II All-American wrestler at Pitt-Johnstown. He started training with former Steelers offensive lineman turned MMA fighter Carlton Haselrig in 2008.

“I moved in with him after I graduated. Started fighting MMA, and it kind of just snowballed from there.”

Dempsey went pro in 2012, fighting out of the The Mat Factory in Lower Burrell. He won the middleweight and light heavyweight titles with the local Gladiators Of The Cage promotion.

Dempsey’s first opportunity to fight in UFC was thanks in part to his time in the Boy Scouts. He was called in the summer of 2014 to take the fight in Dublin, Ireland on late notice. Fortunately, he already had a passport from when he used to travel to Canada for canoe trips.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

Dempsey lost that first fight in UFC, but more opportunities followed. In April 2015, he won a middleweight bout by split decision over The Ultimate Fighter 19 winner Eddie Gordon. Four months later, Dempsey was back in the octagon, but suffered a Round 1 TKO loss to Jonathan Wilson.

There’s no sightseeing for Dempsey during his visit to London. It’s all business. His opponent Saturday is England’s Scott Askham (13-2-0). Things got intense between them during Friday’s weigh-in.

“The kid I’m fighting, he got in my face after the weigh-in. I started laughing at him. So I guess there’s a little hostility there.”

Dempsey will be the “visiting team” Saturday, but he plans to win his fight for survival in the UFC.