UFC Moncton: Andre Soukhamthath Ready to Prove He’s Going to Be A Big Problem in Bantamweight Division

Andre Soukhamthath hit a setback last time out, but at UFC Moncton, he’s ready to show that he’s still going to be a big problem at 135lbs in the UFC.

Moncton, NB — Andre Soukhamthath heard the critics. Heard plenty from them after his loss to Sean O’Malley at UFC 222. It’s a fight in which ‘The Asian Sensation’ was rocked early, only for O’Malley to later injure his leg. Yet Soukhamthath was unable to turn off ‘The Sugar Show,’ and got an earful for repeatedly taking O’Malley down rather than trying to knock him out. Armchair critics, for the most part. Yet Soukhamthath, who later left Twitter with a pointed message to the media saying “it takes two people to put on FOTN,” (the bout won Fight of the Night honors), is ready to put all that behind him at UFC Moncton this weekend.

“If I can take anything from that experience, it’s growth,” he said at Thursday’s media day, ahead of a fight with short-notice replacement Jonathan Martinez. “I should have did something, I didn’t do it, I got a lot of backlash for it, whatever. Growth man.” Besides not performing the way he wanted in the fight, Soukhamthath also felt he was too distracted by outside influences.

No longer. Ahead of the UFC Moncton card, there’s been talk of the ‘old’ Andre coming back. The Soukhamthath who started his career 11-3, winning and defending the CES bantamweight championship in the process. As to what rekindled the flame, Soukhamthath told Cageside Press that it boiled down to a homecoming of sorts. “Going back home to train,” he explained. “What I did is I spent four weeks down in Florida, like I usually do with my team down at Hard Knocks 365, great training partners, some of the best coaches in the world.” The other half of his camp came with some familiar faces. “My old MMA coach Pete, my old boxing coach Dave, my coach from day one — my father. Because they know me. They know me mentally and they know me physically. So it wasn’t like I was jumping into something new, I was going into something that was winning me fights, that got me into the UFC.”

“That really brought my fire back, just building a team around Andre Soukhamthath, rather than just being a teammate or a part of a team,” Soukhamthath continued. “Now I’m the boss, and I control my training, and everybody’s revolving around me.”

On whether anything in particular sparked his message to the media back in the Summer, Soukhamthath said there was — and it boils down to the lack of respect he saw for his part in a Fight of the Night battle.

“Absolutely. Everyone’s talking about — obviously they’re making fun of me, and stuff like that. Internet bullies, you know what I’m saying?” he began. “They were just like ‘why’d I take him down? All I had to do was stand up,’ calling me the dumbest fighter in the UFC. But if you look at the fight, and we got Fight of the Night — can you not respect my heart? I got rocked the first round. People don’t know, I went into that fight with a nearly torn MCL. More than half of my camp was physical therapy, but only I know that.” Crucially, what Soukhamthath sees as being overlooked is that “it takes two people to get Fight of the Night. If I wasn’t tough, if I didn’t fight back, if I didn’t try to win the fight, we wouldn’t have got Fight of the Night. And that’s all I meant by it. Everybody’s like ‘oh you know, this and that, this and that’ praising Sean O’Malley, but hey you need to praise me too, ’cause I’m a warrior, and I don’t quit, no matter what.”

Despite the MCL injury, Soukhamthath doesn’t regret taking the fight, regardless of outcome. And asked about O’Malley’s current USADA troubles, he essentially went easy on the young star. “I’m a classy guy – I have no comment on that, but all I got to say is, I know he’s making more bread than me. He’s got like 300-something thousand followers, he’s probably got a lot of sponsors. So if I can have a nutritionist, and take the right stuff, then there’s no reason that he doesn’t have one. I doubt that he doesn’t have one. I’m sure he has people on his team telling him what to take, telling him what not to take, trainers, nutritionists, doctors, if I have it, he has it. That’s all I’m saying.”

As for Saturday’s opponent, Martinez is not who Soukhamthath had trained to face. That would be Gavin Tucker, who would have been the local hero, essentially. Instead, Jonathan Martinez comes in on short notice. But it doesn’t change anything for Soukhamthath. “Nothing. I kept it the same as I was going to fight Tucker,” he said. “They’re both southpaws, the only difference is, it’s this kid’s first time in the octagon, and he’s fighting me, a 1-3 UFC fighter. That could be deceiving, but I’m going to go out and show the world that I’m going to be a really big problem at 135, and I’ve still got potential.”

Soukhamthath would later add, when it comes to his opponent, that “all I know is, he’s going to sleep in the first round.”

UFC Moncton (UFC Fight Night 138) takes place Saturday, October 27 at the Avenir Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick. Andre Soukhamthath meets Jonathan Martinez on the main card, which airs live on Fox Sports 1 (TSN 5 in Canada).