BJPenn.Com Exclusive: Amir Sadollah on Kissing Babies, Breaking Hearts and Dan Hardy
After winning season 7 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2008 Amir Sadollah has struggled to find his groove. At 6-3 he has only competed in three fights during the course of one year on only one occasion. You also have to remember that he came on to the show with absolutely no professional fights on his resume. His experience level is not on par with someone who is his age.
The last time we saw Sadollah was back in May where he defeated Jorge Lopez via split decision on the UFC on Fuel TV: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier card in Virginia. Since then he has been busy honing his craft, living the dream, kissing babies and breaking hearts. Those are his words, not mine!
For the most part he trains alongside his Ultimate Fighter coach and friend Forrest Griffin, but when I caught up with him he was in Holland training with Duane Ludwig at the Combat Sports Academy.
“I’m living in Las Vegas now so Xtreme Couture is my home base,” Sadollah told BJPenn.Com. “Now that I am in Holland I am training at CSA with Marco van den Broek. At Couture’s we have a lot of great trainers including Ray Sefo, Kyle Griffin and Dennis Davis. I began training with Couture’s after The Ultimate Fighter ended. I was on Griffin’s team and I really enjoyed working with all of the guys here.”
He will face Dan Hardy at UFC on Fuel TV: Struve vs. Miocic in just two days. Hardy will enjoy a huge home field advantage as his apartment is literally around the corner from the arena. According to Sadollah that doesn’t bother him in the least bit.
“He lives around the block from the arena, but the cage isn’t his home it’s my home,” said Sadollah. “It’s a challenge and I certainly like challenges. I like the pressure and at the end of the day a fight is a fight anywhere in the world. I’m expecting to get booed, but that’s ok with me.”
Hardy is well known for his power and most of his opponents look to take him down where he is not as accomplished as he is when the fight stays upright. Sadollah feels as though he has prepared himself in all aspects and is not looking past Hardy in any way, shape or form.
“Stand-up is his main tool and he has good power in his hands,” offered Sadollah. “I plan on putting the pressure on him and utilizing all of my skills. I’ll use my strikes when the opportunity arises, my takedowns when I can and my BJJ when I see an opening. This is a fight where I can showcase my all-around skills. You never know how a fight’s going to go until you get in there so I have an idea of what I think my advantages are going to be, but I won’t know until Saturday. I just like to be prepared for everything, if we stand all three rounds I’m fine with it just as I would be if we got into a grappling contest.”
Who knows where Sadollah would be had it not been for The Ultimate Fighter. He may be the ultimate testament that the show does hold its value. Many fans and critics feel as though the show has run its course, but Sadollah is certainly not one of them. In fact he is of the belief that the show is just getting started and wouldn’t mind an opportunity to coach a team of his own if the opportunity arises.
“I think it serves an important purpose, it gives guys a chance to get in the UFC,” said the Brooklyn born Sadollah. “It’s not an easy way in either, the fans like to watch fighters that they know and when they see them on a reality show it gives the fans a sense of who they are. That kind of helps sell these fighters to the fans, if they know the fighter then they will want to watch them compete. I like that they are going to the international shows a bit more as it helps gain interest from all over the world.
“The bigger it gets worldwide the better for the sport. MMA has the potential to be the biggest sport in the world. If I was asked to coach I would certainly accept, the show itself was a great experience. On this season I was asked by Roy Nelson to be a guest coach for a couple of days and I got to go in there to work with some of his guys. Nelson is a great coach; he’s been in the game awhile and knows a lot about everything. He was very dedicated to his guys and I got to see that first hand.”
Despite the fact that he is 32-years-old Sadollah believes he is entering the best years of his career. Because he only has 9 career fights his body hasn’t been put through the ringer like many other mixed martial artists.
“If you listen to everyone you’re career is over much sooner than you think,” Sadollah admitted. “I feel the best I ever have right now. I hope I can be on the Randy Couture plan and fight until I’m in my 40’s. It’s something I will evaluate after every fight, but for right now I feel like I’m continuing to get better and getting closer to realizing my full potential.”
A lot has been made of the rash of injuries the UFC has been hit with in recent months. Some have called for the organization to cut back on its schedule, but Sadollah knows that is not the answer. As the sport continues to grow so will the demand and so will the amount of athletes looking to be a part of something huge.
“It’s just inherent to the sport, guys are training hard and this is a serious sport,” said Sadollah. “There are definitely risks when you are training. I think it would be great if we all got to fight 4-6 times a year, there would be no shortage of guys to be there and be ready to fight. Out here in the Netherlands there are so many shows, but they have so many great fighters so when someone gets injured there is always someone ready to step in and replace them. Injuries are going to happen, but the bigger the sport gets, the more guys we will have available to step in on short notice.”
When that cage door closes in the Capital FM Arena on Saturday, Sadollah expects the pace to be hectic. He will look to engage early and often and in turn provide the fans in Nottingham a great fight.
“I hope they are going to see a fantastic, aggressive fight,” Sadollah stated. “They are going to see a fast paced fight at least that’s what I plan on bringing into the cage that night.”