John Howard UFC 94For UFC middleweight John “Doomsday” Howard, the opportunity to fight in front of his hometown crowd of Boston at the legendary TD Garden arena is nothing short of a career crowning experience.

“I’m so excited to be fighting at the Garden,” said Howard. “It’s a dream come true and I’m so happy.

“Of course it’s a motivator; it’s a big motivator. Only a few people out of Boston can be an athlete and perform at the Garden.”

Howard will be returning to the UFC for the first time in two years this Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 26 against Uriah Hall.

Howard told MMAWeekly.com that in his two years away from the promotion, he’s become a more formidable striker thanks to the help of a multiple time boxing champion.

“I’ve been working with Vinnie Paz and there’s a different style he’s given me,” said Howard. “My slips are way better, my power and my movement is a lot better. My footwork and head movement is way better.

“I’ve been knocking people out left and right. It’s been awesome.”

Howard (20-8) hopes it’s the striking that will make the difference in his fight with Hall (7-3)

“I’m not sure about the takedown, because I’m sure (Hall is) going to try to take me down, but one thing’s for sure is getting in there and banging hard,” said Howard. “That’s what I’m going to try to do.

“It’s going to be a good fight and I can’t wait. Even moving up to middleweight, I’m going to be stronger and faster, so I can’t wait.”

Having lost three UFC fights in a row prior to his release (and subsequently won six of seven), Howard is out to prove something at UFC Fight Night 26 and make a case for an extended return with the company.

“I want to let the UFC know that I’m back to stay and I’m moving forward,” he said. “The whole point is to make a statement, that’s my goal, to make a statement.”

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