CHRIS BUNGARD has a fixture clash with a difference this weekend. The MMA fighter is in Italy ahead of his appearance this evening at Bellator Milan when he will step into what will be an eerily quiet cage to take on Frenchman Aymard Guih.

The day job always comes first, of course, but there is still a small part of him wishing he could have been back home preparing for another sporting event.

Bungard is a massive football fan and, had timings been different, would have been making his debut this morning for MTK Holytown in the Glasgow District Saturday Morning League.

That setting is miles away from fighting, usually, in front of tens of thousands of devoted MMA fans but there is something about kicking a ball about with his pals that brings the 31 year-old a lot of happiness.

“I’m involved in two amateur teams now,” he revealed. “I’m still with Bullwood and the new one is MTK Holytown which is where I stay. This is our first season and it’s all my friends so it makes it more enjoyable playing with your pals.

“The season starts this weekend so I’m missing the first game unfortunately. But hopefully it’s a double celebration come Saturday night.”

Spending a week in a nice hotel in Milan seems reasonable consolation although this has been a fight build-up with a difference.

Deprived of the usual chance to take a walk around the city and see the sights, Bungard has been mostly cooped up in his room to comply with stringent quarantine restrictions. If it all goes well he may take the chance to explore a bit more this evening.

“It’s definitely been different,” he added. “Different country, no fans, quarantining, masks and all the rest of it. It’s new but you have to play by the rules sometimes.

“It will be strange with no crowd there as I thrive on a big audience usually. It will be weird walking down the ramp and then into the cage.

“The announcer will have an echo and I’ll be able to hear the opponent's corner and mine. Maybe I’ll just start chatting to him [Guih] if it gets a bit too quiet. My French wasn’t bad at school so I could practice!

“There’s been no sightseeing so far this week but we’re going to try to go out after the fight for some well-earned pizzas and beers.”

He has spent part of the week catching up with Irvine Welsh’s books, something that earned him a nod of recognition from the author when he mentioned it on Twitter.

“I saw that, it made my day,” admitted Bungard. “That was class, man, to get a wee bit of chat from him.  

“I’m reading Porno just now which is good, quite funny. I’m not a big book fan but it helps to pass the time. I like to read the odd Irvine Welsh or Stephen King book but that’s about my whack.”

Bungard will continue to use his influence to badger the Bellator hierarchy to bring an event to Glasgow but only when fans are able to return.

“You can’t have the first time they come to Scotland in an empty arena. You need to wait until all of this blows over as it would definitely sell out with me and a few other Scottish guys on the show.

“No matter if it’s boxing, football or MMA when UFC has been in town, the atmosphere at events in Glasgow is a different level. I don’t know why Bellator haven’t made the jump yet. Maybe they think there’s no market there but if they do that’s wrong. I think they’re probably sick of me banging on about it! But hopefully they can make it happen next year.”

He has made no secret of his allegiances to Celtic, something he admits has drawn him into the occasional back-and-forth with Rangers fans on social media.

“The chat I get from Rangers fans is definitely a bit mixed!” he admitted. “Some say they still like me and others just give me stick on Twitter.

“If they don’t like me for my fighting skills or how I talk then that’s one thing. But I’d hoped that there won’t be folk not wanting to come to watch me just because of the team I support.”

Bungard also serves as an ambassador for Chris’ House in Wishaw, an organisation that helps those struggling with mental health and suicidal thoughts. He is bashful about how much of an influence he has but will continue to bang the drum for a worthy cause.

“It was suicide prevention week recently but for us it’s every day, all year round. As long as I can do my bit to help I’ll always be there for them.”

Watch Chris in action at Bellator Milan: Gallagher vs. Ellenor live on Bellator MMA’s YouTube Channel from 7pm on Saturday, October 3. The main card is on Channel 5 from 10pm