(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?