Heading into his CFA 125-pound title defense against Sam Thao at the promotion’s recent Oct. 12 event, Joshua “Gremlin” Sampo anticipated a tough fight, but ended up getting more than he bargained for.
“I’m a little frustrated,” said Sampo looking back on the fight. “We worked pretty hard on preparations, and the guy was extremely crafty and tricky.
“He had a very unorthodox style he presented and so we had to go back to our wrestling roots and jiu-jitsu and grind out a win. I think it’s a pretty ugly win, but a win none the less.”
Sampo admitted to MMAWeekly.com that the lack of information he had on Thao ended up making the fight more difficult than it could have been.
“We had heard he was a hard striker and had heavy hands, but it wasn’t his hands that had me worried, it was the crazy kicks that had me baffled,” said Sampo. “He started out southpaw then he would switch and throw unorthodox kicks and we did not see that coming at all.”
Thankfully, Sampo’s gas tank allowed him to stay strong throughout out all five rounds en route to a unanimous decision victory.
“I’m pretty proud of my conditioning,” said Sampo. “It’s something I’ve relied on through wrestling and everything.
“I knew I could go five hard rounds, that’s what I trained for, and it paid off. I think I could have probably gone another two or three rounds if I had to.”
With the win, Sampo retained his title and raised his record to 10-2.
As for what’s next, while he’s unsure, Sampo hopes to continue to impress and make his way to the next stage of his career in the coming year.
“I want to go to a big show and fight the toughest names out there,” he said. “Ultimately some of those higher names; higher ranked guys won’t fight me. We’ve had that issue before, and it seems like that may be the case again.
“We definitely want to make it to the UFC, but I look at it like a job promotion. I’ve got to work hard, be recognized and have them make that decision to bring me up. Until then, I’m just going to keep training hard and fight well when the next game opponent comes along.”