UFC 110 is going down, down under, marking the promotion’s first foray to Australia. Scheduled for Feb. 21 at Acer Arena in Sydney, UFC 110 is just one of many foreign adventures planned for next year. And when the UFC ventures to a new locale, there is always a real effort to bring in some of the local talent. Peter Sobotta and Dennis Siver from Germany made appearances in Cologne for UFC 99, dozens of Brits have appeared on cards in the UK, and we can expect similar efforts to reach out to the best Aussie fighters on the scene.
When you think about Australian MMA, one name comes immediately to mind: “The King of Rock and Rumble” Elvis Sinosic. Heavy.com has confirmed that the UFC is giving serious thought to bringing in the 38 year old Sinosic. We sat down with him to talk about the past, letting the future take care of itself.
Heavy.com: A lot of people don’t know that Australia was on the forefront of modern MMA. There were guys from the area in Pancrase from the beginning, and Chris Haseman representing in RINGS Japan.
Elvis: Yes there were some Aussies involved early on in MMA or MMA style matches. Though they were few and far between it was great that Australians were part of making history.
Heavy.com: What was your background going into your MMA debut?
Elvis: My background was varied I’d trained in traditional styles, Judo, Tae Kwon Do & Kali, some eclectic styles Jun Fan & Kai Shin, some more traditional combat styles Muay Thai, Boxing & Wrestling and finally I had begun Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. So I had varied history in Martial Arts.
Heavy.com: On your first night of fighting, you took on Haseman and lost in an odd way. A chin to the eye? It at least puts you in good company. Igor Vovchancyn lost an early fight that way too.
Elvis: Yes, in the early days there were a lot less rules and lots of loop holes. It was definitely a journey of discovery. Though everything we went through then became the foundation of what MMA is today. My actual debut match was vs Matt Rocca from the Lion’s Den. Frank Shamrock was also in his corner for the match. Getting in the cage for the first time was an amazing experience. It was a real buzz and hearing that cage door clang shut let you know that this was for real.
Heavy.com: That wasn’t the last time you saw Frank Shamrock. He was widely considered the top fighter in the world in 2000 when you took him on. How did they approach you to fight him? What were your thoughts coming in?
Elvis: I was approached out of the blue for this match after going to a decision draw with Dave Beneteau at UCC 1 (now known as TKO). They were looking for fighters and asked if I was interested, I of course said yes. They said they would get back to me. Apparently Frank was trying to setup a fight with a big name Japanese star for the K-1 show. One of the names I heard was Yuki Kondo. In the end all the potential Japanese opponents turned down the match. Two weeks before the show they contacted me to see if I was still interested. This left me with barely 10 days to train before I flew out. I took the match without hesitation.
Heavy.com: Were you intimidated by his reputation?
Elvis: I wasn’t intimidated at all; actually I was thrilled at the thought of facing such a well known, talented, experienced fighter. My goal was to go in there and give it my best. In the end I put in a good match but the lack of proper preparation left me falling short of my potential and I lost the match by decision.
Heavy.com: You did very well. Did he say anything to you after the fight?
Elvis: Frank didn’t say much after the fight but later on when we spoke again he congratulated me on the effort. He said I was one of his hardest fights. He said he breaks all the fighters he gets in with and I just refused to break.
Heavy.com: It was a major fight on a major show. How did the Japanese fans react to you after? How did you enjoy fighting in Japan?
Elvis: The Japanese fans were great before and after the fight. They really revere their fighters and treat you well. When I went in to some of the stores I even got discounts because I fought in K-1. That was pretty cool. I always enjoy fighting anywhere there are fans. I haven’t encountered any bad fans yet.
Heavy.com: You created a name for yourself as a legitimate star by beating Jeremy Horn. Horn has a reputation as one of the most cerebral fighters. What did you think of his game?
Elvis: Jeremy Horn is a very talented fighter. But he is one that got there through hard work. He is very well rounded. Has good stand-up and a phenomenal ground game. I had a lot of respect going into the fight with Jeremy. Jeremy had choked out Chuck, gave Frank Shamrock one of his hardest fights and went the distance with Minotauro not to mention what he had achieved in the IFC. This was not a guy to take lightly.
Heavy.com: What was it like to fight in the UFC for the first time? Although it was the “Superbowl” many fighters in that era were surprised by how “small” it was. Certainly not on the level of the mega cards in Japan as far as fan interest?
Elvis: Getting into the UFC was one of my career highlights. Just the opportunity to fight for them was amazing. It was the UFC that got me into the sport and wanting to give it a go. So to be able to step up finally was awesome. Even though the Japanese events had much higher attendance and bigger shows the atmosphere in a UFC event was definitely not lacking.
When you were in the UFC you knew you were in the Big Show. Both K1 and UFC have something special. They both have a different atmosphere but in both of them you can feel the energy. You know this is the pinnacle of the sport. I also think there was something almost mythical about the octagon and stepping into the UFC cage for the first time was a rush.
Heavy.com: Three months later you were fighting Tito Ortiz. Were you surprised to be in a big title fight so early?
Elvis: Yes I was surprised at getting the shot so quickly. Funnily enough my coach and I discussed fighting Tito at UFC 30 and we both agreed that I would need a couple fights under my belt before thinking about it. But then a few weeks later I got the call and asked if I would take the match and I had absolutely no hesitation. How could any fighter turn down and opportunity like that?
Heavy.com: Did you worry at all about his size? It seemed to me sometimes that you were a fighter searching for the right weight class.
Elvis: His size never bothered me. When I started in the sport I fought in the heavyweight division even though I was naturally a LHW. Big guys were nothing new to me. As to my weight class I am naturally a LHW, I don’t need to cut. Due to my frame though I am too big to go to Middleweight and so LHW was the place for me.
Heavy.com: What were your thoughts on his typical post-fight antics?
Elvis: I didn’t think much of them. It is what he does and I knew it would happen if I lost. I think it’s what he does for the fans and for the attention. I don’t have any problems with it. What he did with me was pretty light hearted anyway.
Heavy.com: Who called you about returning to the UFC for UFC 55? Were you pretty excited about coming back to a company that was now thriving in America?
Elvis: I was called by the matchmaker to get back into the UFC. I had won some fights outside and worked my way back up. I was excited about fighting in the UFC again. The UFC was on a growth spurt and becoming a household name. TV can do some amazing things for a sport and it was doing that for the UFC.
Heavy.com: What did you think of Forrest Griffin as a fighter? Were you surprised at how popular he was so quickly after his TV show appearance?
Elvis: I really wasn’t surprised at how popular Forrest had become. Not only was he a very talented fighter he also had a great outgoing personality which was tailor made for the fans. He’s a good guy who knows how to fight, who comes to fight and has fun doing it. What more could the fans ask for?
Heavy.com: Most memorable training story? Most memorable fight story? Favourite fights you’ve seen over the years and why? Favourite fighters?
Elvis: I must say I am blessed. I have lots of memorable fights and an amazing career. My first fight in the cage in Sydney Australia was fantastic. To finally step into the cage in front of an audience for the first time was indescribable. To be able to fight in the K1-GP, one of the biggest fighting events in the world and face a 5 time UFC world champion, totally awesome.
Next to be able to finally get to step into the UFC Octagon was like I finally made it, winning made the memory unforgettable. Then to get a World Title shot what else can compare? I’ve fought in countries all over the world. I was in the first ever Australian MMA event, fought and won the first Ever Australian HW Title, Fought in the first UFC with Zuffa. Been the first Australian in the UFC, first Australian to win in the UFC and the first Australian to get a title shot.
I was on the first ever UFC card in the UK and I got to do in the Royal Albert Hall which was an amazing location. And the thing is I am not ready to call it quits there either. The UFC is coming to Australia and I want to be on the first ever Australian UFC card.
As to training stories one of my most memorable was getting concussed in sparring twice in one night in the lead up to a fight. I didn’t go down and my partners never noticed but I forgot most of it. I kept talking to one of the guys by the ring and asking him what happened? How many rounds have we done? Is sparring over yet? The things you do when you’re a fighter.
I’ve seen so many fights over the years it’s hard to pick a favourite. I guess I’d choose one of mine if I had too. As to favourite fighters I like the guys who come to fight, have some heart and great skill; some of the guys I like watching are Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Antonio “Minotauro” Rodrigo Nogeria, Anderson Silva and many more. But as a fighter in the end I’d rather be fighting than watching the fights.
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