At one time he was a phenom in Japan picking up kickboxing wins over legends like Ernesto Hoost and Cyril Abidi. Even in defeat, his fight with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is the stuff of legends.
Sapp’s star power in Japan was showcased in movie roles, commercials and even his own music CD release.
His drawing power still seems strong, but gone are the days of many wins for the giant American, who went through all of 2011 without a victory in either kickboxing or MMA matches.
Sapp hopes to resurrect things a bit in 2012 however when he faces Rolles Gracie at One FC in Jakarta this weekend.
“This is a fight I believe I can win. I can really get back on track by beating Rolles Gracie and show I have put 2011 behind me,” Sapp told MMAWeekly.com from Jakarta. “I have been training in Jakarta every day since I got here, it takes two hours to get to the gym because of the traffic and due to my commitments with the media I am busy during the day but I am working out every night from 11pm to 2am, I’ve done that every day since I have been here, that’s how much I am putting into training. I work on my stand up, on BJJ, on takedown defense.
“It is a legendary match and I’m really looking forward to it. My strength is his weakness, I am going to be looking to test his chin and I think I can knock him out. The Beast is rejuvenated, revitalized and the Beast saga continues. I’m not going to submit him that’s no secret, so let’s see what happens.”
The best experience that Sapp can possibly draw from as he gets ready to face Gracie this weekend was his epic 2002 fight in Pride against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Sapp earned his nickname of ‘The Beast’ that night as he literally tried to throw Nogueira in, around, and threw the ring, but in the end the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace put him away with an armbar in the 2nd round.
The experience still holds in Sapp’s mind however, even though the fight was nearly a decade ago, and he hopes to show off a few new tricks when facing an equally dangerous ground fighter this weekend.
“The fight with Nogueira was incredible, there were so many people and I did a great power bomb, it was something I will always remember,” Sapp stated. “That fight (with Nogeuria) gives me a lot of confidence because he had a good ground game but he did not submit me straight away.
“I learned a lot from fighting Nogueira, there is no substitute for getting in there and doing that.”
Good or bad however, Sapp is always up for putting on a show. During Friday’s weigh ins the former NFL player and his opponent almost came to blows after hitting the scales, and the crowd in Jakara seems ready more than ever now for a fight.
Sapp’s strategy isn’t a big secret either. He wants to go in and smash Rolles Gracie and walk out of the ring.
“I believe that I can knock out anyone on any given day and that gives me all the confidence in the world,” said Sapp.
“I am not going to be patient I want to knock him out and knock him out fast.”