Team Kaobon is fast becoming the place for British lightweight fighters in the UFC to train. So far they count Terry Etim, Paul Kelly, and Paul Taylor amongst their roster, but when the bell rings for UFC 120, Paul Sass – or Sassangle as he is dubiously known – will join the list.
“It feels great to be fighting in the UFC and it’s even better that I am fighting in the U.K.,” stated the Scouser, warning that there will be a lot of people making the trip down from Liverpool to London on Saturday.
“There is going to be a huge Scouse following on the night, even though loads couldn’t get tickets for the show they will still be coming down for the night out after the fights.”
Stylistically, Sass is paired against another fighter who appears to be a good match for him. They are both roughly the same height, the same weight, and have been awarded their purple belts in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“My take on Mark Holst is that he has good stand-up and a good ground game as well, but I’d be lying if I didn’t have my eye on the sub of the night bonus,” he said cheekily.
For the Liverpudlian – who started off his career with seven consecutive triangle finishes – it would seem natural that he would want to have a technical battle on the mat, but he insists that isn’t always the case. Most of the time, he starts looking to strike and things take a different direction.
“I’m not sure how this will go. I would like to trade, but in every fight I have said that people have always shot in on me for the takedown. If that happens I would love another triangle win, but if I see anything else that will win me the fight I’m going to take it.”
Clearly confident in his abilities on the mat, does he feel he has the edge because he has seen an opening on video?
“I don’t like watching footage of my opponents because I feel you get drawn into playing their game. My coaches make an assessment about what to look out for and we take it from there. I am just preparing for him like I would anyone else.”
Considering Sass has only been competing as a professional for the last three years, it has come as a bit of a surprise to him that he has secured a place at the table in the world’s largest MMA promotion. It was something he was aiming for long term, but the pace with which his goal has materialized has been an unexpected, but welcome turn of events.
“I didn’t expect it to come around so soon. My goal was always to become a UFC fighter, and I think that because there are so many good gyms and coaches in Liverpool, I have been able to progress so quickly. Fighting on the OMMAC and Cage Gladiators shows have really helped and I think that because of this I have developed well in the home of U.K. MMA and am now making that step up.”