EXCLUSIVE | Sampo talks CFA 12 title defense, flyweight division | Fist-A-Cuff Radio
Sampo (9-2) will face upstart Sam Thao at CFA 12 in Miami, which will air live on AXS TV.
Sampo is on an impressive 6-1 run and is ranked by numerous outlets as a top ten flyweight in the world.
Sampo was a recent guest on BJPENN.COM’s Fist-A-Cuff Radio Show where he waxed on several subjects, including: the benefits of a wrestling background, his partnership with fellow flyweight standout Alp Ozkilic, his submission of Alexis Vila, and much more.
Be sure you listen to the entire interview HERE.
Eating like a flyweight
“I try to stick with the diet as much as possible. I did a pro muay thai fight a while back and that was at only 130 and that weight cut was harder than my cut to ’25 because I didn’t stay disciplined. I was like, I cannot do that again and make that mistake of slipping up just a little bit. Something as simple as a doughnut can change the mental aspect of a weight cut. It’s a lifestyle. The healthier I eat, the more I enjoy this food. It’s not like I’m eating anything but wheat grass. I’m eating the healthy stuff and finding good ways to make it taste good too.”
Sparring with Alp
“We have that mental connection where we know how hard we can actually go with each other. It’s hard for us to get outside people to come and work with us because we’re so used to going hard with each other. A lot of people can’t go at that pace and it ends up hurting us as far as workout partners. It’s hard for us to tone it down because we’re so used to going with each other at such a high pace and a high level that mentally we feel like we’re breaking people in half some times. We’re wrestlers and that’s how we know how to train and that’s hard.”
The Grappling Grind
“That adversity aspect is there and it can be in almost every match you compete in. That on top of the lifestyle and the weight cutting. Wrestling is one of the longest seasons you go through. You have to deal with the holidays and not being able to eat as much as you want and not indulge during Thanksgiving. You deal with all of those components of the sport and it just transitions right over to the fighting. Wrestling has a leg up on a lot of martial arts.”
Fighting Alexis Vila
“I was like, big risk, big reward. If we go down there, put on a good show and beat the guy, it’s going to get our name on the map. This guy was undefeated at flyweight, an Olympic medalist, he’s done a lot in this sport. I was working with a manger at the time and he got me a substantial pay day for it so that kind of boosted my coach to say yes.”
Then Beating Vila
“Now I know I can go five rounds hard. I trained every aspect for the fight knowing that it can go five rounds so I needed to be able to go five rounds, 100-miles-per hour. Twenty-five minutes of hell is how I always envisioned it in my mind. As it went to the fifth round, this guy was a little seasoned, had a little bit of age on him and I knew that I can push the pace on him, I can get him fatigued and then wait for him to make a mistake in the later rounds and capitalize on that and that’s exactly ended up working out for us.”
Impress the Boss
“I look at it as a job interview or job promotion. Dana White is my boss. He can promote me to the UFC. I can’t demand that promotion. All I can do is work my butt off, show them what I’m capable of, show that I’m ready for that next step and wait for his approval to bring me up to that next level. In the end it is not my decision. Worrying is not going to get my anywhere. All I can do is train hard and fight and when my opportunity comes, I’m going to grab it and run with it.”
Small Gym Blues
“I think it has a lot to do with it. I think it has a drastic affect on it, from where we’re at and where we’re coming from. I don’t know the logistics of everything or how they view our gym …There’s always up and downs with everything. Why is someone like (Sergio) Pettis? I think he’s a good fighter but I don’t think he’s fought anybody, really. You look at the people he’s fought and there really isn’t any big names or any substantial wins there. Or a Dustin Ortiz. He gets signed and who has he fought? What does Dana White want out of a fighter as far as competition? I can go out and pad my record and get 20 wins with chumps. The quality is not there.”
The Thao Fight
“They asked me, who do you want to fight. I said I want the top dude, the toughest dude that you can find. They said give me a list so I gave them three names; Darrell Montague, the second one was Sean Sentella, and then (Will) Campuzano. Those are the three names that I want to fight right now. My manager worked and tried to get all three of them and all three either said no or already had a fight scheduled. So the next that toughest dude they could find was Sam Thao. That’s kinda how it worked. I want the toughest dudes, the biggest names, whatever you can give me and that’s who they come up with.”