UFC Mexico City’s Andre Soukhamthath: “It’ll be a great fight… if he lasts.”
Around five and a half months ago, then-CES Bantamweight Champion Andre Soukhamthath (11-4) received the call that he worked so hard to receive. “The Asian Sensation”, as Soukhamthath is called, had finally done enough on the New England regional scene for the UFC to extend a contract offer to him to fight at UFC 209 in Las Vegas, NV. While there was no way in the world Soukhamthath would turn this opportunity down, there was a bit of a caviat, as the Rhode Island native would have to take the fight on just nine days notice. After having to cut eighteen pounds in just eight days, Soukhamthath made his first walk to the octagon, where he faced off against a very tough Albert Morales.
“Laotian people are always slept on. More than half of the world doesn’t even know where Laos is. I have the chance to change that.”
Soukhamthath’s signing with the UFC marked the first time that a fighter of Laotian decent had signed with the promotion- something that Soukhamthath is very proud of and draws inspiration from. “It means a lot. It was always one of the reasons that I wanted to make it to the UFC, because I would be the first to do it,” explains Soukhamthath. “It feels great to have that as part of my legacy. My sons will carry that on knowing that their dad was the first Laotian fighter. It also gives other Laotians all over the world hope. Laotian people are always slept on. More than half of the world doesn’t even know where Laos is. I have the chance to change that.”
Soukhamthath’s long awaited UFC debut against Morales was highly competitive, with both men having their moments throughout the fight. As the bout progressed, the momentum began to swing in Soukhamthath’s favor. Soukhamthath, to the surprise of many, shot for takedown despite dominating the fight on the feet and hurting Morales with some rib-crushing shots to the body. The risky decision did not pay off, as Morales was able to take the back and finish the fight in a dominant position. The unsuccessful takedown may have been the difference in the fight in the eyes of the judges, as Morales walked away with the split decision victory. It was all just a big learning experience for Soukhamthath, who believes with a full camp the fight would have gone differently. “I think that what fight camp does is not only prepare you physically for a fight, it prepares you mentally,” says Soukhamthath. “During fight camp you start getting in the zone, you start getting a little mean and you do your nutrition right. I didn’t get a chance to do that.”
In addition to being relatively ill-prepared for the fight, it was his UFC debut, and Soukhamthath believes that the fact that he was stepping onto such a bigger, newer stage may have interfered as well. “It being my first time in the UFC, a lot of things were new to me too. I couldn’t really put things in line the way I usually do. When I got to Vegas, I didn’t know what they expected. Now that I know what the UFC is all about with a full fight camp, I can really show what I can do.” Putting the external “uncontrollables” aside, Humble in defeat and not making excuses, Soukhamthath believes that errors in the octagon were definitely a factor in the loss. “I think I would have won the fight if I didn’t shoot in for the takedown, but you know I’m trying to win the fight,” says Soukhamthath. “I felt like I had a better ground game on top, and was doing some damage. I was trying to secure the win because I was tired. You do stupid things when you’re tired in the cage. I did something that I usually don’t do. I do think that if I had kept it standing and went back to the body, I would have won that fight. My mind just wasn’t there.”
“If I don’t knock him out, I know it’s going to be ‘Fight of the Night.’ He likes to stand and trade. I like to stand and trade. If he lasts, it’ll be a great fight.”
The 28 year-old Soukhamthath will get an opportunity to redeem himself in his second UFC bout this Saturday night, as he takes on Alejandro “Diablito” Perez (17-6-1) at UFC Fight Night: Mexico City. “He has a lot of experience in the UFC. He’s an Ultimate Fighter winner, so I know it’ll be a good win,” says Soukhamthath of his opponent. “It’s not going to be an easy fight, in his hometown where he’s fought a bunch of times. But this is when I shock the world and become a star.” Soukmanthath sees the bout between himself and Perez as not only being a favorable matchup for him stylistically, but an exciting matchup for fans visually as well. “If I don’t knock him out, I know it’s going to be ‘Fight of the Night.’ He likes to stand and trade. I like to stand and trade. If he lasts, it’ll be a great fight.”
“At the end of the day I’m a fighter, man, and I’ll fight somebody underwater if I have to.”
When “Mexico City” is mentioned while talking about mixed martial arts fights, the first thing that comes to mind is elevation. Despite gassing in his last fight, Soukhamthath doesn’t see his cardio being an issue no matter where the bout takes place. “At the end of the day I’m a fighter, man, and I’ll fight somebody underwater if I have to. I did make some adjustments though. I’ve got a nice nutrition plan and am trusting my coaches [at Combat Club], nutritionist Doug Kalman and strength in conditioning coach Dr. Corey Peacock. I trust them. They’ve got a whole plan for me and I’m following it. Come fight night, the elevation isn’t going to matter.” When visualizing how the fight will end, Soukhamthath predicts a second round finish. “I know he’s going to try to dance around me, because when I hit him he’s going to be just like everybody else, he’s either going to shoot or run away. I think I finish him, maybe with another nice flying knee,” laughs Soukhamthath, referencing his highlight reel knockout of bitter rival Kody Nordby at CES 33 (see video below). Fans will have to tune in on Saturday night to see if Soukhamthath can end yet another bout in emphatic fashion.
Andre Soukhamthath vs. Alejandro Perez takes place Saturday August 5th, live on the Fox Sports 1 main card portion of the broadcast. Soukhamthath and Perez are the first bout on the main card, which begins at 10 pm EST.
Credit for above video: AXS TV Fights