UFCThe Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is a U.S.-based mixed martial arts organization, recognized as the largest MMA promotion in the world. The UFC is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada and is owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC. This promotion is responsible for solidifying the sport's postion in the history-books.
UFC is currently undergoing a remarkable surge in popularity, along with greater mainstream media coverage. UFC programming can now be seen on FOX, FX, and FUEL TV in the United States, as well as in 35 other countries worldwide.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou had a lot of hype to live up to when he made his UFC debut last December. Though his record was a thin 4-1, two of his wins were quick knockouts of top-ten light-heavyweights Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona, and most MMA pundits had him ranked as a top-ten 205íer himself. Unfortunately, Lyoto Machida proved that the Cameroonian fighter still had a lot to learn, particularly on the ground. Still, Sokoudjou bounced back at UFC 84 in May, beating Kazuhiro Nakamura to a pulp and regaining his ferocious reputation.
This Saturday, heíll be facing Brazilian Luis Cane on the main card of UFC 89 in Birmingham, England ó another fearsome striker with a 1-1 Octagon record and a lot to prove. Ben Zeidler tracked down the African Assassin over the weekend to ask him about his upcoming fight, his loss to Machida, his public call-out of Mauricio Rua, and the ďgentle wayďÖ
CAGEPOTATO.COM: What potential problems does Luis Cane pose for you?
RAMEAU THIERRY SOKOUDJOU: Heís a good stand up guy and heís knocked out a bunch of people so I have to watch out for that. Heís got a good left and he throws it all the time. Heís a solid boxer so itís just something Iím going to have to deal with.
Do you think you would try to take him down? Do you have an advantage on the ground?
Iím not gonna say that yet. Iíll try to be careful around his strong points and show his weakness. Iím gonna be ready to do it all. Iíve been training like Iím fighting the best on the ground and the best on the feet. Iím ready.
How has your training changed to face him?
It depends on what you mean by change. Machida was beating me with technique, not strength. I realized that I couldnít rely on just my strength. Guys used to roll with me and say Iím the strongest guy they faced but I still need to put more effort into technique. I need to be able to use them together, and thatís how my training has changed. Other than that, itís the usual camp.
Were you hoping for a bigger name opponent for this fight?
Iím a fighter who is looking for a way to make money. Iím not gonna disrespect Luis by saying heís not a big enough name. Heís just a fighter like me, heís never lost other than a DQ, and heís in the UFC. Anyone in the UFC is a great fighter and I respect that a lot.
Whatís it like training with Dan Henderson at Team Quest?
Oh man, theyíre hard on me. I wish I were 38 or 39 so I knew some of the stuff he knows. Youíre supposed to start falling apart in your 30s, but not Dan.
Would you ever want to take on Machida again?
Definitely. You know, he opened up some mistakes in my game. Now, Iíve been working on what he showed me so it was a blessing in disguise. Iím working on all of my weaknesses right now and it would be great to fight him again and see how far Iíve come.
After the Nakamura fight, you challenged Mauricio Rua. Did he disrespect you or did you just want the fight?
No, I love the guy. Heís a complete MMA fighter. Itís a way of me challenging myself and trying to see how far I am from him. It was my way of saying ďShogun, beat the crap out of me and show me what I need to work on.Ē
After Cane, do you have anyone in mind for a next opponent?
Whoever gets me my paycheck. I called out Shogun and got Luis Cane. (Laughs) You canít choose your opponents in this sport. The only thing I can say is that I will fight anyone: boy, girl, young, old.
How much does the Judo help you in the UFC? Do you find yourself relying on it?
The Judo gives me the confidence that not anyone can take me down. I donít have to worry about the takedown. I canít say that itís helped my physically but itís definitely helped me mentally.
Iíve heard whispers of your competing in judo in the Olympics. What did you think of the judo participants in the past Olympics? Were you thinking ďI know I could beat these guysĒ?
You know how it is when you watch sports. Youíre sitting there and you think you can beat all these guys. But itís a different story when youíre there and on the mat. Iíll be watching and I get mad at other peopleís mistakes. But I know that you gotta be on the mat to know whatís going on.
Okay, but would you want to do it?
Iíd love to, but Judo donít pay no bills.
Youíre about to fly to London. Whatís your schedule once you hit the ground?
Iíll be in Manchester for a couple days, fight, and then party! Iím staying for the K-1 fights too so Iíll be hanging out.
Do you enjoy being with the UFC? Do they treat you as well as PRIDE did?
Put it this way: theyíre two different organizations. PRIDE is more Japanese style and thatís what I grew up doing with my judo. I love the Japanese culture and doing the Gi judo. On the other side, UFC is the place you want to be right now, especially for my weight class. You get all kinds of exposure and you get paid. Itís a shame PRIDE went out but the UFC is great for me right now.
Tell us what to expect from Sokoudjou on Saturday.
Iím gonna get paid! I need money for Christmas. Thatís all I can say.
Anything to say to your fans?
Tune in on Saturday and youíll see a great, exciting fight.
I still want to see the fight with Shogun.
Fedor fights I want to see..
Fedor vs. Josh Barnett
Fedor vs. Randy Couture
Fedor vs. Tim Sylvia - DEMOLISHED
Fedor vs. Andrei Arlovski - DEMOLISHED