No risk, no reward. UFC bantamweight Andre Soukhamthath didn’t hesitate when the opportunity to replace Bryan Caraway at UFC Fresno landed on his doorstep. Now, he has a shot to leapfrog ahead of the pack in the promotion’s 135lb class.
Andre Soukhamthath knows what happens when a fighter goes 0-3 in the UFC, but that didn’t stop him from stepping in for Bryan Caraway on short notice at UFC Fresno. Now, against Luke Sanders, ‘The Asian Sensation’ has an opportunity to remind MMA fans what he’s all about.
The personable bantamweight spoke to Cageside Press ahead of the fight about the big opportunity ahead of him in Fresno, staying away from the judges, preparing for short notice fights and more. Throughout, one thing was clear: Soukhamthath is ready for the next step in his career.
Short notice fights are a tricky thing; stepping in can seem like a lottery. Without question, a number of fighters showed interest when Caraway was forced off the UFC Fight Night 123 card in Fresno. It was Andre Soukhamthath who got the nod — so just how did the whole thing come about? Well, for starters, he’d been looking for a fight.
“I’ve been kind of staying ready in the gym. Something was bound to happen” he told Cageside Press. “I wanted to get on the Fresno card, I wanted to fight at the end of the year or early next year.”
As luck would have it, Caraway’s misfortune was Soukhamthath’s gain. “I saw Caraway pulled out, so I just figured it was an opportunity, if no one’s going to step up, then hey, I’ll take the fight” he explained. “I’m in decent shape, I’m a fighter, at the end of the day, it’s what I do.”
Then came the social media angle. “I sent out that tweet, that Instagram, just to let people know that I’m for real. My manager asked for the fight, and I got it.”
— Andre Soukhamthath (@AndreSoukMMA) November 21, 2017
Of course, this isn’t Soukhamthath’s first rodeo when it comes to short notice scraps. His UFC debut also came on short notice. Really, it’s becoming something of a habit. The fighter has an interesting take on the situation, however: it’s about both opportunity, and taking control.
“Instead of letting the UFC determine when I’m fighting, when I’m getting paid, or when I get to work, I took control of my own matters”
“In this life, people complain about ‘When’s it going to be my turn? When’s it going to be my opportunity?’ — things like that” he suggested. “For me, whenever I see an opportunity, I try to take it. Just like a short notice fight. It was my dream to fight in the UFC, and you know I got it. Now this late notice fight, I’ve been dying for a fight, and there it is, it’s right there.”
Beyond the opportunity comes control. “Instead of letting the UFC determine when I’m fighting, when I’m getting paid, or when I get to work, I took control of my own matters, saying ‘hey, put me in, I’m down.'” Not everyone would, in his opinion. “That’s something a lot of guys would be scared to do, especially guys in my position that are 0-2, going up against a tough Luke Sanders.”
He’s not wrong, and he knows full well that his back is against the wall. “It’s a lot of pressure. A lot of pressure. But at the end of the day, we’re fighters, this is what we do. If anyone shies away from a fight, then they’re really not a real fighter. They’re in here for the business.” He paused ever-so-briefly, then added “And that’s okay too. But I like going to sleep at night knowing I’m a real fighter. I love what I do, and I do what I preach.”
Not many do, in this day and age. “Some people might think it’s crazy, some people might think it’s stupid, on my end, my management’s end, but if they walk a day in my shoes, they would say ‘alright, this is why'” he continued. “I just want to provide for my family.”
The end goal? “I’m not just doing this for the money, I’m doing this as an opportunity” Soukhamthath told us. “Bryan Caraway was what, he’s top fifteen in the world? This fight could make me top fifteen in the world. How can I not take this opportunity when it’s right in front of me. I go in there and I beat Sanders, which I strongly believe I can, that makes me top fifteen in the world after being 0-2.” Again, it comes back to seizing the opportunities in front of him. “If an opportunity presents itself, I’m going to jump on it. I’m only twenty-nine years old. I continue to get better every day, I’m still hungry, I’m still striving to be the best. It’s nothing but a learning experience. This experience is going to make me better.”
Of course, with any short notice fight, there’s always that question of making weight. On that front, the UFC Fresno fighter was confident. “Thankfully I have a great nutrition plan,” he explained, adding “I keep my weight pretty low for the most part. Of course the weight cut will be a little harder then when you have a camp, but this is what we do.”
It’s all about the sacrifices. “We have to make those sacrifices, we have to eat that salad for two weeks straight instead of eating what we really want to. Because this is what we do, this is what we get paid for. I just gotta suck it up.”
He even suggested that, despite the short notice, this could be an easier cut than he’s had in the past. “I’ll make weight” he promised. “I made weight in seven days, I cut twenty pounds in seven days so this gives me an extra week basically. This is fourteen days to make weight, no problem. Lets do it.”
He’s already given up one holiday to reach his goal. “I didn’t have a Thanksgiving by taking this fight. I got the call on Tuesday. While everybody was enjoying their Thanksgiving meals, I was eating my salad, drinking my gallon of water. I want this. I’m hungry for this. This is what I want to do, I want to be a champion, and I know that’s a very hard goal that everybody has, but I”m going to try my best getting there.”
“I’m always honest with myself, I’m never going to lie to myself” he said of where that resolve comes from. “That’s why I do things the right way.”
On page two, we discuss preparing for a short notice fight, staying far far away from the judge’s scorecards, and more!