Sam Sicilia knows that, at the end of the day, it’s all about winning. That’s something he learned the hard way upon entering the UFC, but it’s not something that he’s willing to sacrifice his knockout style for.
Modify, yes; sacrifice, no.
“When I first got into the UFC, it was really challenging, trying to find my balance between a fight and a sport,” Sicilia told MMAWeekly.com before he caught a plane for this weekend’s fight in Japan.
The sporting aspect of the game was a significant transition for Sicilia, who, prior to stepping into the Octagon, was primarily able to step in the cage and proceed full bore, ripping people’s heads off without so much as a second thought about his gas tank or his strategy.
He had fought solely in the Pacific Northwestern United States prior to his UFC tenure. Sicilia was at the top of the food chain in his region, but was facing the other big fish of the world when he stepped into the Octagon.
It was akin to being the best college football player in one’s conference and then making the transition to the NFL.
Flying by the seat of the pants isn’t necessarily the best way to make that a smooth transition.
“I grew into the sport to find that balance and now it’s time to get that win streak going. I got a win going into this fight and this would be my first back-to-back wins in the UFC,” said Sicilia.
Coming off a victory over UFC newbie Aaron Philips in his last fight, Sicilia faces a stern test in trying to string consecutive victories together. He faces former DEEP lightweight champion Katsunori Kikuno on the Japanese fighter’s home turf at UFC Fight Night 52 in Tokyo.
Kikuno is a tough fighter with a solid 22-6-2 record, but he doesn’t have the name value that will bump Sicilia leaps and bounds in the eyes of fans. That’s okay though, Sicilia is realistic about where he’s at in his career and what he needs to do to gain a coveted spot in the title talk mix that fighters strive for.
“It’s about stringing wins together right now. That’s just where I’m at, fighting guys like that, until I string a couple together,” said Sicilia. “I don’t feel like I’m in a position to start calling out anybody until I have a soapbox of unconscious bodies to start talking from.”
Notice he said “unconscious bodies.” Sicilia has learned his lessons about competing at the highest levels of the sport, realizing he has to notch victories in his belt or it’s all for naught, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to give up the knock-em-out-choke-em-out brashness that earned him a spot in the Octagon in the first place.
“I’ll never ditch that and I’ll still have that exciting edge. If I clip somebody and I smell blood then I’ll go balls out,” said Sicilia, promising that he’ll be going after Kikuno with everything he’s got on Saturday.
“Really, it’s just about picking my freakout points or brawling on my own terms instead of just going in and going balls out from bell to bell. I just have to use that strategically, keep moving around, and then when it’s time to put them away, put them away.”