Louie Sanoudakis is a 7-1 bantamweight prospect set to make his second foray in Brave CF at Brave CF 24 and we spoke to him heading into the fight.
On Thursday, July 25, Brave CF returns for its third event of 2019, Brave CF 24. The event will be headlined by a featherweight title fight pitting current champion and NCAA Division 1 wrestler Bubba Jenkins opposite former interim lightweight titleholder Lucas Martins. The event also has three bantamweight bouts scheduled for the night. One that could have title implications will see rising Canadian bantamweight Louie Sanoudakis squaring off with former Cage Warriors title challenger James Brum.
Heading into the contest, Tristar’s Louie Sanoudakis sat down with Cageside Press to discuss the fight, Brave CF, and more. The Canadian standout began by speaking about his career as an amateur athlete before crossing over to the pro ranks.
“Going undefeated in the amateur circuit was a good confidence boost. It showed me that I can hang with the top local guys. In terms of going professional, I think the experience was important and helped me pave the way for how to deal with all the nerves that come with stepping in the cage or ring, or just performing in front of people in general. You repeat something enough times, you get used to it and more with the idea of it.”
Sanoudakis quickly racked up an impressive 5-0 record before experiencing his only defeat as a professional athlete.
“I don’t wanna talk about my loss! No, I’m kidding. I think it was good to experience defeat at some point, as cliche as that is. It allowed me to reevaluate my training and what I was doing wrong. I think that particular fight just got away from me. One of those off nights, ya know? But I’ve learned, and moved forward. And I believe I’ve gotten much better since then.”
So, how did a promising bantamweight fighter on the Canadian regional end up with one of the top organizations outside of North America?
“The deal with BRAVE came about when my manager contacted them. They seemed interested in signing some Canadian talent, and I felt ready to compete internationally again. It has been absolutely great ever since,” he continued. “The decision to sign with BRAVE was a no-brainer for me. The deal was great, the organization is well run, great production value, and absolutely phenomenal exposure. It was really easy for me to jump on board.”
“Leonidas” got his first opportunity to compete for the promotion at Brave CF 16 in Dubai. His opponent that night was the highly regarded Jordanian bantamweight, Nawras Abzakh. He spoke about the opportunity and his performance that night.
“Nawras was a great opponent and gave me one heck of a fight. He came forward and put good pressure on. I think the fight was exciting, especially the exchanges on the ground. In terms of my performance? Not sure, I never like to rate myself. But if I’m being objective, I’d give myself maybe like a B-. There are obviously things I could have done better, but hindsight is always 20/20.”
The Tristar bantamweight enjoyed competing outside of North America for the second time as a professional. While the entire experience was enjoyable, if you ask him, the best part of it all may have been the food that he was able to take in while celebrating the win.
“Getting to travel to Abu Dhabi was great, getting to compete in Abu Dhabi was even better. Getting the win in Abu Dhabi was obviously the highlight. Post-fight I got to enjoy the food I didn’t get to have beforehand. It was absolutely mind-blowing how good the food in the UAE is,” He continued raving about the food of the region, “I celebrated the win by taking a little road trip to Dubai, and having maybe the best Indian food I’ve had in my entire life. I believe the restaurant was called Gazebo. Service was also top-notch. We have really good Indian food in Montreal because we have a big community out here, but in Dubai, it was next level.
I love all the variety of spices in Indian food. They use so much, and it’s always so flavorful. I love chicken…you cover some of that up in Indian curry? Game over, man. Top-notch,” Sanoudakis said. “I do not come from an Indian background. However, I was raised in a borough in Montreal called ‘Parc-Extension’ which is filled to the brim with Indian restaurants. I also grew up with so many Indian people, so that’s how I grew fond of all that food. My background is Greek, and we also have some pretty great food, I think.”
Sanoudakis was introduced to Mexican food by former WEC champion and UFC bantamweight Miguel Torres.
“My all-time favorite food has to be Mexican food. There wasn’t much in Montreal growing up, so I wasn’t exposed to it until later in life. I used to train a lot with Miguel Torres, and he had invited some of us over to his mother’s house in Indiana, and that was my first foray into Mexican food. It was incredible. My tolerance for spice is through the roof, so it makes it all the better. However, Indian cuisine is a very, very close second.”
“Leonidas” doesn’t just like to celebrate by eating, he also likes to spend his downtime cooking as well.
“This is the toughest question because most of my time is spent in the gym. However, I really enjoy going to little hipster coffee spots, and discovering good restaurants that are lesser-known. I’ve taken up cooking recently and discovered it’s something I enjoy doing a lot. If you asked me a year ago, I would have never guessed. Something cathartic about it. I’m not very good at it, but I’m improving… so it’s fun. And if I screw it up, I can just go out to eat to one of the many great restaurants out here.”
Sanoudakis hasn’t celebrated a victory in almost a year as he has been out of action for the better part of 10 months. He believes the time off has only benefited him leading up to the fight with Brum.
“It’s been around 10 months since the last fight, and I couldn’t be more excited to step back in there. I honestly don’t know why the layoff was so long, I think maybe time just got away from me? At the end of the day, I don’t think that matters too much as I feel very fresh and prepared going into this one.”
Brum has been away from action for two and a half years himself. Sanoudakis believes the break could have helped Brum rejuvenate himself.
“I know my opponent is a very seasoned guy. Very tough, rugged, and has much more experience than me. Really great fighter who it is an honor for me to compete against,” he stated. “I’m honestly not so sure the pressure is on him. I feel like that long layoff could have been good for him to reinvent himself. Maybe coming into it with a fresh mindset. I try not to worry about those things outside of my control. Only thing I can really focus on is myself, and what I’m doing.”
Current featherweight king Bubba Jenkins recently expressed interest in dropping down to bantamweight to challenge for that division’s crown. “Leonidas” would be all for a potential fight between bantamweight champion Stephen Loman and Jenkins.
“I really think those two guys are the cream of the crop right now. Both really impressive, and both very different skillsets. As a fan, it’s a matchup I’d be interested in watching for sure.”
With fighters like Aidan James climbing the ladder, top athletes like Jenkins considering a move and Brave picking up experienced veterans such as Brum, Sanoudakis is uncertain where he stands in the division, even with a win. Right now, he is unconcerned with his place in the weight-class and is focusing rather on the task at hand.
“When I look at the landscape of the bantamweight division right now, I’m not so sure where I stand and what a win would do for me. I know this is so lame and cliche, but I really do just try to focus on the task at hand. And right now, my plate is full. I think reevaluating post-fight is the best thing I can do.”
The Canadian prospect talked about his preparation for the fight, and developing and evolving his game at the top gym in Canada.
“TriStar is the top gym in Canada, and training there has been an absolute blessing. I get to work closely with Firas Zahabi (my head coach). He’s so good in every aspect of MMA, there isn’t a single question he can’t answer or at least try and figure out. We have such a good depth of sparring partners, from amateur to professional. I have my Muay Thai coach Peter Sisomphou who has over 150 Muay Thai fights, and is so knowledgeable and experienced. I hit pads with him every week. He really forces me to push my cardio to the next level.
My wrestling coach is Gia Sissaouri, who is an Olympic silver medalist, has been paramount in this training camp. Having such a high-level guy helping you out really helps the mental game. He’s a wrestling encyclopedia. Watch his highlights on YouTube. Super impressive guy. And his mindset is terrific. Even guys I don’t work directly with like Conrad Pla (who was a highly ranked kickboxer in his day), being able to pick their brain and get their unique perspective on things is terrific. I truly feel like I’m around all the right people. The rest is up to me.
Too many guys have been helping me prepare for this particular matchup. I sparred a lot with Aiemann Zahabi, James Mancini, Zach Makovsky, and this really talented amateur named Steve Bissinger. The Montreal wrestling club helped me prepare as well, consistently wrestled with Vince De Marinis and Scott Schiller. Both incredible talents from the Montreal wrestling club. They make me so much better by showing me I truly know nothing about wrestling. It’s very humbling.”
Training at the legendary Tristar gym means that you are surrounded by some of the top coaches around. While head coach Firas Zahabi won’t be making the trip to London, Sanoudakis is confident in the team he will have in his corner on fight night.
“Firas won’t be making the trip this time, he’s been traveling so much and he’s got guys competing in Edmonton a few days later. Then traveling again, a week after that. He’s a family man, so it’s good that he gets a bit of a break. Regardless, I worked very closely with him this training camp, and my whole career really. All his teachings are burned into my brain at this point, and if they’re not, shame on me!
My friend Arnold Allen will be cornering me, and his coach from back home Jack Mason will be joining along. Arnold has a ton of experience, and I trust him to guide me in the right direction. Jack is very well known in the scene out in the UK and is a great asset. My friend Tony Kostopoulos will be making the trip. He trains recreationally, but he’s incredibly funny and a super guy to have around to keep things lighthearted during fight week.”
Sanoudakis wanted to give a shout out to his management, sponsors and others supporting him.
“Aside from all the people I mentioned above, I really wanna send a special thanks to my management team Robbie Stein and Jeremy Rubin. They really take care of me. My brother John, who is like a father to me, he works super hard and makes sure I get what I need during training camp. A super special thank you to one of my sponsors Jordan Dykler, who goes above and beyond for me. He’ll be making the trip out to London as well; he’s been such a huge help. My childhood best friend Emmanuel Martinos has been recently working at the gym, so I get it to be around him a lot these days, and while he doesn’t compete, he’s been helping a lot in terms of just creating a great atmosphere in the gym. Mandel Nallo who is one of the top lightweight prospects in Bellator, being around him is always great and comfortable. We both kind of approach fighting with the same philosophy, so it’s refreshing to be friends with someone who is so like-minded. If I’ve forgotten to thank anyone, please write me an angry letter, and I’ll be sure to rectify it ASAP. But seriously, everyone in my life plays an important role, big or small. Thank you! P.S. I’m looking for a coffee sponsor. Anyone want to send me bags of the stuff? “
Brave CF 24 will air live from London on the FiteTV app on Thursday, July 25. The Broadcast will begin at 11:00 a.m. EDT and the event can be purchased for either $9.99 or with 15 FiteTV credits.