It happened in an instant. A training partner's knee connected with Ryan (The Kid) McGillivray's face during a routine sparring session last July.

The 25-year-old welterweight from Edmonton didn't think much of it at the time. But those watching at Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., saw it differently.

"I knew it hit me pretty good and I was bleeding," McGillivray recalled. "There were a couple of guys sitting at the ring watching and they looked at me with a little bit of awe on their face.

"I'm like 'I know it's bleeding.' And they were like "No, your face is sideways.' Then I took a little jaunt over to the mirror and then I knew pretty quickly that something was wrong."

McGillivray (11-5-1) jumped on a plane for Edmonton and had surgery the next day. A September fight was ruled out but, his broken beak restored, he returns to action Friday night against American Diego Bautista (7-0) at "MFC 32: Bitter Rivals."

McGillivray, who had a stint in the UFC last year, will be making his 11th Maximum Fighting Championship appearance.

The card at Edmonton's Mayfield Trade Centre features Dwayne (D-Bomb) Lewis (12-7) of Fort McMurray, Alta., against former UFC veteran Wilson Gouveia (12-8) in the first five-round non-title fight in the MFC's 12-year history.

The co-main event pits 40-year-old MFC lightweight champion Antonio (Mandingo) McKee (26-4-2) against Brian (The Bandit) Cobb (19-6).

The Bautista fight is the first for McGillivray since last June when he lost a decision to Shamar Bailey in the live finale to Season 13 of "The Ultimate Fighter."

The Canadian acquitted himself well on the reality TV show, before losing to eventual winner Tony Ferguson in the quarter-finals.

While unhappy at Bailey's "lay-and-pray" approach in the season finale fight, McGillivray says the loss prompted him to work more on his wrestling to become more of a complete fighter.

It was a chance encounter before that June finale that led McGillivray to head to New Mexico to train with Jackson. While waiting for UFC's president Dana White's pre-event address, McGillivray found himself sitting with Jackson and lightweight Clay (The Carpenter) Guida, who also trains in Albuquerque.

They invited him to come down and train — "a great move for me," said McGillivray, who has had two stints in New Mexico.

He says he would likely move down there or train for much longer chunks were it not for young daughter Peighton. McGillivray says three weeks is about as long as he can go without being with her.

While impressed by the coaching at Jackson's, McGillivray says the talent in the gym is amazing.

"There's so many very very talented fighters there that have so many different looks, different lengths, weights, everything like that. Every round is different and every round is a fight.

"I feel like I've fought this (Bautista) fight 100 times already."

As his nose attests.

"I like to think I'm pretty again ... They took a bunch of my nose out and reset it," he said. "It's feeling good now."

McGillivray says he had hurt his nose before, but not like this.

"I don't think it's ever been badly broken. It's been cracked a little bit and stuff like that, (but) never moved over like it has been. . . . It was a bit of a freak accident."

Asked if the offending knee belonged to a fighter of note, McGillivray laughs and diplomatically declines to name names.

"He feels bad enough as it is," he said. "I don't really feel like ruining a reputation or have anyone look down on him for what was strictly an accident."

The surgery did not slow McGillivray down. He was back in the gym the next day, running and hitting pads. Thanks to headgear with a bar across the face, he was soon back doing light sparring at Legends Training Centre, the gym he runs with his father.

His goal is to get back into the UFC by his birthday in September.

"Luckily it's in my hands. My future's well within my control."

Jackson likes what he sees in the hard-working Canadian.

"He's got a lot of potential," said the renowned trainer. "He's a really tough kid.

"Getting injured the way he did and then coming right back on the horse shows a lot of character. . . . I was very impressed that he came back from that."

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