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Exclusive Interview: Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

(Photo courtesy of Combat Lifestyle. For more pics from this set, click here.)

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 205’er 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, he’ll be facing Brazilian Luis Cane on the main card of UFC 89 in Birmingham, England — 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 “gentle way“…


CAGEPOTATO.COM: What potential problems does Luis Cane pose for you?
RAMEAU THIERRY SOKOUDJOU: He’s a good stand up guy and he’s knocked out a bunch of people so I have to watch out for that. He’s got a good left and he throws it all the time. He’s a solid boxer so it’s just something I’m going to have to deal with.

Do you think you would try to take him down? Do you have an advantage on the ground?
I’m not gonna say that yet. I’ll try to be careful around his strong points and show his weakness. I’m gonna be ready to do it all. I’ve been training like I’m fighting the best on the ground and the best on the feet. I’m 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 couldn’t rely on just my strength. Guys used to roll with me and say I’m 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 that’s how my training has changed. Other than that, it’s the usual camp.

Were you hoping for a bigger name opponent for this fight?
I’m a fighter who is looking for a way to make money. I’m not gonna disrespect Luis by saying he’s not a big enough name. He’s just a fighter like me, he’s never lost other than a DQ, and he’s in the UFC. Anyone in the UFC is a great fighter and I respect that a lot.

What’s it like training with Dan Henderson at Team Quest?
Oh man, they’re hard on me. I wish I were 38 or 39 so I knew some of the stuff he knows. You’re 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, I’ve been working on what he showed me so it was a blessing in disguise. I’m working on all of my weaknesses right now and it would be great to fight him again and see how far I’ve 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. He’s a complete MMA fighter. It’s a way of me challenging myself and trying to see how far I am from him. It was my way of saying “Shogun, beat the crap out of me and show me what I need to work on.”

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 can’t 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 don’t have to worry about the takedown. I can’t say that it’s helped my physically but it’s definitely helped me mentally.

I’ve 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 “I know I could beat these guys”?
You know how it is when you watch sports. You’re sitting there and you think you can beat all these guys. But it’s a different story when you’re there and on the mat. I’ll be watching and I get mad at other people’s mistakes. But I know that you gotta be on the mat to know what’s going on.

Okay, but would you want to do it?
I’d love to, but Judo don’t pay no bills.

You’re about to fly to London. What’s your schedule once you hit the ground?
I’ll be in Manchester for a couple days, fight, and then party! I’m staying for the K-1 fights too so I’ll be hanging out.

Do you enjoy being with the UFC? Do they treat you as well as PRIDE did?
Put it this way: they’re two different organizations. PRIDE is more Japanese style and that’s 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. It’s a shame PRIDE went out but the UFC is great for me right now.

Tell us what to expect from Sokoudjou on Saturday.
I’m gonna get paid! I need money for Christmas. That’s all I can say.

Anything to say to your fans?
Tune in on Saturday and you’ll see a great, exciting fight.

Cagepotato Comments

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jcast- October 14, 2008 at 2:28 pm
"Goddamn I would hate to be Cane. How bad would it suck to lose to a dude with a designer purse AND FUCKING CHIHUAHUA."

You can't forget the gay white sunglasses
and the homo pose.the perfect MySpace picture FAG
Anonymous- October 14, 2008 at 1:31 pm
"Goddamn I would hate to be Cane. How bad would it suck to lose to a dude with a designer purse AND FUCKING CHIHUAHUA."

You can't forget the gay white sunglasses
and the homo pose.the perfect MySpace picture FAG
Anonymous- October 14, 2008 at 1:30 pm
"Goddamn I would hate to be Cane. How bad would it suck to lose to a dude with a designer purse AND FUCKING CHIHUAHUA."

You can't forget the gay white sunglasses
and the homo pose.
Kevbo- October 13, 2008 at 5:51 pm
@ Anonymous

Maybe he just doesn't want to show his little member and destroy the myth that the black people created.
Anonymous- October 13, 2008 at 5:28 pm
if sokodjou wants to get paid so damn bad why didn't he just become a porn star like he wanted to.
BIG CHRIS- October 13, 2008 at 4:28 pm
From the looks of that photo it seems like Petrezzeli found himself a compatible partner to roll around the mat with...."if you know what I mean..."
Mayhem for real- October 13, 2008 at 4:04 pm
Sokodjou isnt walking through anybody in this fight...

he may win, but its gonna be a tough one.. Cane is more technical on the feet, and his Muay Thai is brutal....
Mikey Gilz- October 13, 2008 at 3:08 pm
Wow, Sok really sounds like T.O. all the sudden.

Idk, i always pictured him as one of these good hearted, fight for the fans kind of guys. Either way. He will walk through Cane and then get somebody with a name and some good fights will be in the future.

"Yo want yo shit? GO GET YO SHIT!!!"
kimbo stole my shoes- October 13, 2008 at 2:30 pm
i wonder if this guy is hoping to receive financial compensation for his performance at this event? i was having a difficult discerning whether or not he enjoys things feduciary in nature.....
skidding- October 13, 2008 at 2:29 pm
I have respect for Cane, but I hope Sok armbars the crap outta him in the first round. Cane doesn't have the finesse of Machida, so Sok shouldn't have any trouble tripping him down at will.
Vrax- October 13, 2008 at 2:16 pm
Goddamn I would hate to be Cane. How bad would it suck to lose to a dude with a designer purse AND FUCKING CHIHUAHUA.
Jeffro- October 13, 2008 at 2:10 pm
I think this is a great matchup that will lead to a spectactular fight. Soko is tough as nails, but luis cane is no fucking joke. I expect the fight to end in vicious fashion.
Hadde- October 13, 2008 at 1:34 pm
Looking forward to his fight. Hoping to see the old Soko like he was in PRIDE