Photo via Sherdog

CALIFORNIA -- Albert "The Warrior" Morales is counting down the seconds until Saturday.

The Team Iridium beast fights for the first time since May when he returns to action for Lights Out Xtreme Fighting in Los Angeles.

"Everything is amazing," the six-time UFC vet says with a smile when asked about his training camp for this bout. "I've been focusing so much on improving. I've never had such an intentionally long layoff in my life, and the reason for that was so I had time to improve as a fighter, as a person, as everything. I say this all the time, but you're truly going to see a totally different fighter this weekend."

Just how different?

"I'm going to be a whole new fighter," Albert says. "I say that before every fight because I'm always adding tools. But with this break, I was able to upgrade the software and my hardware, both in a major way. I'm excited to put it down; I'm excited for the world to see my improvements."

Albert has his sights set on earning a couple belts with Lights Out before the end of the year. From there, he plans on a return to the international stage.

"In the UFC," he says point blank when asked where he'd like to be in 12 months. "I want to get my belts before next summer, fight on Contender Series next year, earn my contract, have another UFC fight under my belt, and be waiting for my next assignment in the Octagon.

"Let's go."

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CALIFORNIA — It was a great weekend on The Darkside.

Team Iridium fighters Hunter Azure, Tristan Connelly and Louis Smolka all earned victories in the Octagon at the UFC's return to Vancouver on Saturday.

Azure used his heavy hands and impressive grappling acumen to outgun local favorite Brad Katona. Connelly shocked almost everyone (except us) with an inspiring and thorough victory over heavy betting favorite Michel Pereira. To kick off the festivities, Smolka picked up his seventh impressive UFC win with a jaw-dropping, first-round TKO victory over Ryan MacDonald. Fighting in his hometown, fast-rising bantamweight Cole Smith put up a valiant effort against fellow undefeated prospect Miles Johns, before unfortunately dropping a close split-decision in the first loss of his blossoming career.

Meanwhile in Hawaii, top prospect Braydon Akeo climbed to 3-0 and moved a big step closer to the big leagues with a TKO win for X-1 World Events MMA on Saturday.

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Team Iridium upstart Braydon Akeo is back in action this weekend, fighting for X-1 World Events MMA in his native Hawaii. He tries to improve to 3-0 with a third straight impressive victory. Before that, we caught up with the undefeated up-and-comer.

How did you find MMA to begin with?

Man, martial arts have always been a part of my life; I've been doing judo and jiu-jitsu since I was about four years old. It's something that's important to my family; my grandfather was a 10th-degree red belt in jiu-jitsu, my dad was a wrestler. MMA was just the natural move for me to make (laughs).

Do you think you were born to be a fighter?

For sure, for sure. I've said that before. I'm bred for this lifestyle. With all the training and competing I did as a kid, I never really thought about having any kind of job outside of fighting. Now that I'm a full-time fighter, I know that I was bred for this, man.

What's your favorite part of this lifestyle?

Just getting up every day, getting to train and do what I love. I've always been a natural competitor. Every day I'm thankful that I get to do what I want to do. I get to wake up every day and train. I love competing; that's my favorite part.

What's the most likely outcome for this fight?

I see myself finishing him. I'm going to keep how I finish him a little secret, but I really see it ending in the first round. We're levels apart in all aspects of the game. If it goes past the first round, that's fine; the longer the fight, the better chance he has of getting finished anyway (laughs).

One year from today, where would you like to be in the fight game?

I hope to be signed by a major promotion. I've been grinding for a long time. I've only got a few professional fights under my belt, but I'm ready to make that jump from the regional scene to the next level. I'm not sure where that will be; it all depends on what opportunities arise after this fight.

Please FOLLOW along Braydon's journey on Instagram & Facebook!

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