Undefeated in his first six fights, heavyweight up-and-comer Dale Sopi could make an impact in a division that is in need of depth.
In order to make that impact, however, Sopi must step up in competition, which is exactly what he is doing at Friday night’s RFA 21, where he’ll face former The Ultimate Fighter 10 cast member Chase Gormley.
“I’ve fought some decent names, but this will be the biggest fight in my career,” Sopi told MMAWeekly.com.
“These first few fights I’ve had have gone my way with only two decisions and four knockouts. I think I’m a pretty exciting heavyweight. I think I’m a crowd pleaser. My biggest thing is to please the crowd, win or lose.”
Since turning pro in 2013, Sopi has worked hard to become a better-rounded fighter to compete at higher levels.
“I’ve been working a lot on my takedown defense with wresters like (UFC fighter) C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Tipton,” said Sopi. “My takedown defense has been the biggest key in my success so far.”
Moving up to a national stage with the RFA presents its own difficulties, but Sopi is doing his best to approach this fight as he would any other bout.
“It’s somewhat nerve-wrecking,” he said. “It’s every fighter’s dream to take that next step.
“They said I was going to be a feature bout and I was kind of excited, but I’ve got to treat it like a normal fight. Every fighter is dangerous, whether they’re 14-0 or 0-14, every fighter is the same.”
At RFA 21 in Costa Mesa, Calif., Sopi (6-0) will face his toughest test yet in Gormley (10-4), who is currently riding a three-fight winning streak.
“He’s fought some pretty good guys and has been in the UFC, so he has what it takes to be there and is hungry to get back there,” said Sopi of Gormley. “I try not to focus too much on my opponent and try to focus my game plan on what I’m trying to do. I’m going to go in there and try to knock him out.”
A win over Gormley could push Sopi to new heights, which is exactly what he’s seeking come Friday night on AXS TV.
“It’s going to boost my career a lot,” said Sopi. “Hopefully it will get me into title contention with the RFA. I know the heavyweight division is not too big, but hopefully it will lead to the next step and bigger shows.”