by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Few fighters have had a better burst onto the mixed martial arts scene than Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. He had just three professional fights before debuting at Pride 33 against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Nogueira was a heavy favorite coming into that bout. Sokoudjou at that time was 2-1 and had just lost his first bout to Glover Teixeira at WEC 24.
In less than a minute, after a brief exchange, Sokoudjou landed a left that knocked down Nogueira. “The African Assassin” jumped on the opportunity and knocked him out cold with a follow up punch. Instantly, everyone was very excited to see him fight again. Fans wanted to see if this was simply a “lucky punch” or if he was the real deal.
Fans would soon find out as Sokoudjou was slated to fight Ricardo Arona – another Top 10 light heavyweight at the time. Once again, to the surprise of everyone, Sokoudjou finished Arona in less than a round.
All of a sudden, with two straight wins over Top 10 opponents, Sokoudjou found himself in everyone’s Top 1 rankings. After knocking out the aforementioned fighters, Pride dissolved and was purchased by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Negotiations progressed and Sokoudjou signed with the UFC to add more depth to their already stacked 205-pound division.
However, Sokoudjou would not have much success in his debut fight in the UFC. He was given a tough task to try and take out undefeated Brazilian Lyoto Machida. Machida controlled the fight and took Sokoudjou down and eventually submitted him. Much of the luster behind Sokoudjou had been diminished and people once again thought that he was a fluke.
He returned at UFC 84 against Kazuhiro Nakamura and won that fight by TKO due to a leg injury to Nakamura.
Now, he’s looking to put himself back in the mix at 205 pounds and string another victory to his already impressive list. At UFC 89, the 24-year-old will take on Luis Cane, who is a highly decorated striker and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.
Cane is currently 8-1 with his only loss coming to James Irvin by disqualification when he kneed Irvin in the face while he was on the canvas. Other than that blemish, Cane has never gone the distance in any of his fights and has finished seven of his eight victories by TKO.
Sokoudjou has an aggressive style as well, which should make this match even more compelling. In fact, it has all the ingredients to be the fight of the night. The keys to victory for Sokoudjou will be to effectively out-strike Cane and to keep it on his feet. He had a weakness exploited in his bout with Machida when he was put on his back and submitted.
Sokoudjou trains out of Team Quest with guys like Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen. There is no doubt that he has been working on his grappling and submission defense.
Cane will be a very tough test for the relative green Sokoudjou. Fans sometimes forget that despite his early success, he has had only seven fights and is only 24 years old. He has tons of potential to be a threat for years to come with his quickness, strength and natural athletic ability.
One thing is for sure. Don’t sleep on the Luis Cane vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou fight on Saturday night because it has all the makings to be a very exciting fight.