01-22-2009, 06:28 AM
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Sokoudjou Kicks Off New Year at Affliction
Wednesday, January 21, 2009 - by Tom Hamlin - MMAWeekly.com
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou has too much time on his hands.
He’s just finished a training session with mentor Dan Henderson and the others at Team Quest South, and says he has a stack of 10 DVD’s waiting for him at home.
“I have nothing going on besides school and fighting right now,” Sokoudjou told MMAWeekly.com. “I don’t have a family where I need some time to spend with family, all I have is fighting, so I want to do this 100 percent.”
After almost three years as a professional fighter, his mom still doesn’t know what he does for a living. According to him, there’s only one channel in Cameroon, and it’s in French. If he fights there, the jig might be up.
Last March, the Cameroon native decided he’d had enough of waiting around, and enrolled in ITT Technical Institute, because, as they say, you can’t fight forever.
He’s now studying to become a network security specialist at the technical college. It gives him something to do, and takes his mind off his job. In the past, he overtrained because there wasn’t much else to do. He went into fights feeling less than sharp.
“I wasn’t listening to my body,” Sokoudjou said. “I thought I was. I (was) just going in there, (saying) I want to beat this guy. I want to be flashy. I want to show some skills. So, not keeping it simple.”
Sokoudjou wants to keep it simple for his upcoming fight with Renato “Babalu” Sobral at Affliction’s “Day of Reckoning.” It’s always a temptation to get creative.
“In my first UFC fight there was a lot of pressure, but after that, I told myself I’m in this because I love it,” he said. “It’s recreation for me. The only thing I’m still kind of dealing with is trying to do things – watch a bunch of kung-fu movies and wanting to be the guy in the kung-fu movie doing all those crazy, fancy things. If I have an opportunity to make it flashy, I will, but for now my main focus is basics.”
In the gym, Sokoudjou’s training partners drill him on guillotine defense. Babalu has rightly earned his place as a submission expert in MMA, though Sokoudjou doesn’t necessarily draw a parallel to another jiu-jitsu master he faced, Ricardo Arona.
“He’s got better boxing I would say, watching his last Affliction fight,” said Sokoudjou. “On the ground, he’s Babalu. He’s got some sick guillotines and gogoplata… all those crazy names I can’t pronounce. I’ve tried to do his moves, but I’m so not flexible.”
The last year has been something of a roller coaster for the affable light heavyweight. After entering the UFC in 2007 on a wave of hype, he went 1-1 in 2008 competition. Following his last fight, a loss to Luis Cane at UFC 89, he was released from the organization. He was a free agent for mere weeks before signing on to upstart Affliction. The move promised better paydays and a busier schedule, which meant less time doing nothing.
Looking back, he takes the ups and downs in stride.
“That’s the business,” he said. “You can work hard, you can do anything. When you’re up there, you enjoy it. When you’re down there, you do the best you can to go back. I’ve been in Judo where I had my butt kicked every day, and this isn’t new to me. The only difference is this is 2009. It’s a different sport. That’s how it goes.”
His first New Year’s resolution is to defeat Babalu and anyone that stands in his way this year.
“It’s a new year, it’s a new me, so come out and watch the fight,” says Sokoudjou.
AFFLICTION VIDEO: Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou Pre-Fight Interview
AFFLICTION VIDEO: Andrei Arlovski Pre-Fight In-Depth Interview
AFFLICTION VIDEO: Chris Horodecki Pre-Fight Interview