Quotes from CES MMA XXVIII weigh-in
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BANTAMWEIGHT ANDRE SOUKHAMTHATH returns to the cage tomorrow night when he faces the dangerous Brian Kelleher on the main card of “CES MMA XXVIII” live from Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., on AXS TV. Soukhamthath is fighting for the first time since October after an illness forced him to withdraw from his previously-scheduled bout in January. It’s also his first fight on network television as part of a stacked main card that also features the CES MMA debut of 14-time Bellator vet Rick Hawn.
CES MMA returns to AXS TV with stacked lineup featuring Bellator vet Rick Hawn
QUOTES FROM “CES MMA XXVIII”
14-TIME BELLATOR VET RICK HAWN
(On his departure from Bellator): “I think I got a little complacent with Bellator. Fourteen fights. I was there for four years so, unfortunately, things happen. This is the fight game. I got picked up by Titan right afterward and now have an opportunity to fight for CES. Being a local company, it’s very excited. In a way, it’s kind of like a new beginning, kind of refreshing my career.”
(On whether or not he was surprised to get cut): “In some ways. I wasn’t really expecting to get cut. I had the most fights in the company, I had the most wins, or I was tied for first at least, so in the back of my mind, though, having lost two in a row, and with the direction they’re going now, I don’t really fit that profile they’re looking for. It was kind of expected.”
(On his motivation for stepping back into the cage): “When I first got into it, I was only getting into it to kind of satisfy my own thoughts on, ‘Could I do it or not?’ It was something I wanted to do since I was little. My judo career was over so I said, ‘I’ll try it. I’ll see how I do.’ Part of the reason I got into it, too, was because I could make money doing something I trained my whole life, which I didn’t make money at, so I think the biggest motivation was it’s a good-paying job for the most part. It’s my full-time job now, so I think that is the main reason why anyone works, especially in a job like this. It pays the bills, but it’s also like playing, too, and I get rewarded for it, so it’s a lot of fun.”
(On his experience as a Judo Olympian helping him in professional MMA): “I’ve had some high-pressure situations with the judo and the same with Bellator. A couple of title fights, main events on big stages, so it definitely helped. Headlining a fight again is something I’m kind of used to now. The more you do it, the more you get used to it.”
(On his mindset heading into a nationally-televised main event): “My mindset is the same as it’s been since I first heard about the fight. I’m ready to go. I’m super excited about the fight. Stylistically, it brings a good matchup. Good fights, good fans, great main event. I feel positive. I feel confident. I’m really happy about it. Good mood, good vibes going on. Everything is feeling good. It’s on the upswing.”
(On whether or not he considers himself the hungrier fighter): “I do think I’m the hungrier fighter. You can’t ever try to take money from another person. I don’t think anyone likes money being taken from them. I do expect it to be a dogfight. A war. At the very least, I expected to punched in the face, but I’ll tell you what, I’m the hungrier fighter. I’ve been hungry since I first started. I would say I’m old, but I guess a lot of people look at him as the old one. I’ve got a lot left to do. I’ve got a lot of things I need to pay for, so my son’s counting on me and my family’s counting on me. I’m definitely the hungrier fighter looking to go out there and lay my road down.”
(On what’s at stake tomorrow night): “I do feel like I’ve got a lot on the line, whether it be this fight or the fights I’ve had in the past. I’ve always got a lot to lose. Me, personally, being a competitor my whole life, I don’t like to lose. Even if there’s no money on the table and we’re playing rock, paper, scissors, I don’t like to lose. It’s that simple. I feel like this fight brings a style that is right up my alley and I know I’m better at that style. Losing’s just not an option to me. I’ve got a lot of things I’ve got to do with this fight and the turnout and a lot of things I need to accomplish and prove. Losing’s just not an option.”
(On getting used to the idea of fighting on national television): “I know it’s there. I don’t necessarily put more pressure on myself or anything. I just love this spotlight. I love to fight on the big stage. The fact it is on national TV, nobody wants to be embarrassed and lose in front of their fans, never mind the entire nation.”
(On whether or not he’s noticed a difference in how people have approached him since his network TV debut): “Absolutely. It’s definitely changed a whole lot. People randomly hitting me up, even friends that live in different parts of the country that are now able to watch my fights live and I get to be in contact with them over the weekend now after they see my fights and talk to them about it, so the exposure has definitely picked up tremendously. It’s great that we get to reach such a wide audience.”
(On adjusting to a last-minute change of opponent): “For me, personally, I’m really not much of a game-plan person. I don’t sit spending an entire training game-planning for a specific style. You definitely are aware of what the person is better at and you go over things that may tend to that person, but I still go about my same training routine. I may add a couple things here and there for that specific person, but with this opponent change I’m still going to go out there and put in my game plan, which is mix it up, use my boxing, use my wrestling and keep him surprised. Just implement my will in the fight.”
(On nerves being a factor fighting on national television): “A little bit. But once the bell rings and someone gets hit the nerves go away pretty easily.”
(On why he took the fight on short notice): “I just really wanted a fight, you know? I just wanted to do things I did back when I was an amateur. When I was an amateur I would take like 10 to 20 fights in a year. I just want to stay busy. Every fight is a learning experience either about me or myself, what I need to work, what I need to improve. They’re all learning experiences.”
(On how he got started in MMA): “I got into it from a boxing gym, actually. I was actually just going to box but there were no boxers and there were a whole bunch of MMA guys so I figured I’d try it out. The first day, I got beat up. I wanted to give it another try. I had my first fight and went on from there.”
(On his thoughts on his opponent and his approach to the fight): Pretty good, well-rounded fighter. Good standup, good wrestling. A little bit of everything. I take it to people. Some people say I just do what I can to win. Take it to them.”
(On preparing for his television debut): “I honestly feel like this has been the best I’ve ever felt right now, today, and in camp. I got to work with some new tools. At the Blackzilians camp, they’ve got ice baths and some Jacuzzis, so I made sure I took advantage of that and used them everyday, which kept my body healthy. No aches, no pains. I got to push it hard everyday.”
(On blocking out the distractions when he returns to Rhode Island from Florida to fight at home): “It’s always like that. I have so many friends here at home that want to see me and I wanted to see them, too, but this time I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to the next level that I need to start looking at these trips as a business. Come, fight and leave, rather than fighting and saying, ‘Hey guys, I’m coming home!’ They come support me anyway. They all come to my fights. They understand. I hope they understand. Even my family, they say, ‘Why is your stay so short?’ I’ve got to go back home and handle business. I like it like that. It feels good now.”
(On his success validating his move to Florida): “I definitely feel like it was the right move. I’m still the same fighter I was when I started since Day 1. I still have the same passion. I still have the heart. The only difference is the tools in the box are different. All my training partners, they’re all high level. I’m not a big fish in a small pond anymore. I’m a small fish in a very big ocean and that can be good and bad, but I’m learning how to swim and I feel I’m becoming one of the big dogs there, too. Slowly, but surely, my time will come.”
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