by MMAWeekly.com Staff
Interview by Damon Martin, MMAWeekly
Usually a debut in the UFC can be a very nerve racking experience. Some of the best fighters who have wins in some of the smaller shows of MMA will step into the octagon for the first time with a feeling of stage fright when faced with thousands of fans watching live and millions watching at home. Kit Cope is a fighter who will debut in the UFC against first season contender, Kenny Florian, at the Ultimate Fighter finale show on November 5th probably won’t have any nervousness as he has been waiting for this shot for a long time.
Kit Cope, who became known to U.S. fight fans after a documentary aired on MTV called “True Life: I’m a Muay Thai Fighter” debuted a couple of years ago, and the Las Vegas native has now decided to transition from a 4 time world muay thai champion to concentrate on the sport of mixed martial arts. Training with the reformed “Team Punishment”, Cope is hoping to debut in front of his hometown crowd and give them an exciting fight when he makes his way into the UFC.
Kit Cope sat down with MMAWeekly to talk about his debut in the UFC and about his opponent, Kenny Florian.
MMAWeekly: How are things going with training? Who are you training with right now?
Kit Cope: Training is going awesome, it’s pretty ferocious. I’ve had Dennis Hallman staying with me for the last three weeks, so he’s been my main man out there on the mountain. We’ve got a really good gameplan together. I’ve been doing some really good rolling. Ground game is looking beautiful. I’m not so much technical on the ground, but I’m very conservative and I’m very strong.
MMAWeekly: What do you think about Kenny Florian as a fighter and as an opponent?
Kit Cope: He doesn’t seem like he’s a strong guy at all. I don’t see him being a fraction as strong as I am. His takedowns are really not impressive. His striking is definitely unimpressive. He just seems like a very mediocre fighter. He seems like a totally nice guy, I’m not taking anything away from him on that end. He just seems like I’m going to roll over him.
MMAWeekly: Your ground game has to be your biggest weakness. Has that been the focus of your training or you’re just training everything all around?
Kit Cope: My ground game has definitely been my focus in training. If I had a weakness to my game, it would definitely be my ground game. However, that’s all I’ve been training on, and if you ask anybody that’s trained with me, they’ll tell you, you’ll never find anyone that trains any harder. So as hard as I train at anything I do, I’m going to end up good at it. If I put as much work into being a professional baseball player or whatever, I would end up being a top guy. So lately I’ve put all my effort into my ground game.
MMAWeekly: You are stepping into the 170lb weight division in the UFC which is pretty stacked right now, but you have to be considered the top striker right away, being a 4x world champion kickboxer. Does that make you feel like you have more of a target on your back?
Kit Cope: You know it makes me feel like I have more of a target on my legs. It’s funny, because what I’m about to say to you is more of a prediction, because it’s become almost a standard when you’re fighting Kit Cope. Everybody says they want to strike with me, they want to stand with me in the middle of the ring, they want to see what I’ve got and they want to bang with me, and then they get hit once and if that’s not the ending shot, they go straight for my legs to take me down. Everybody wants to stand with Kit Cope until they get hit. The look on their face changes and so does their gameplan.
MMAWeekly: One of the biggest subjects that comes up when people talk about Kit Cope is your 2-2 record in MMA. People talk constantly about your lack of experience and about your fight from the WFA a few years back. Tell us what the difference is with you fighting MMA now versus then.
Kit Cope: I took those two MMA fights right in the middle of my muay thai career and I took them just because they were fights. I wasn’t training MMA, and I didn’t train my ground game at all, not one day did I spend in the gym rolling around before either one of those fights. Since I decided to go MMA and work on my ground game, I’m 2-0. I mean my last two MMA fights, I got one win by submission and one win by knockout, both in the first round. The fighter that I was back then as far as MMA is concerned was a one dimensional fighter. Now I’m a veritable kaleidoscope of a fighter.
MMAWeekly: Your first debut in the UFC is on a nationally televised show for the Ultimate Fighter finale, the last one featured one of the best fights ever with Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. Are you going out to show what Kit Cope is all about and show the fans an exciting fight or are you showing up not to lose?
Kit Cope: I’m not showing up not to lose, I’m fighting to impress. That’s what I’m doing.
MMAWeekly: You’re from Las Vegas and making your debut for the UFC. What does it mean to you to be fighting in front of your hometown fans?
Kit Cope: It’s great. The last time I fought in front of my hometown crowd was in K-1 and I broke the guy’s leg in the second round. That’s the last taste of me that Las Vegas has gotten, so this time I definitely can’t disappoint.
MMAWeekly: Who will be in your corner for this fight?
Kit Cope: My corner for this fight will be Master Toddy, my main man. Dennis “Superman” Hallman and Dean “The Machine” Lister.
MMAWeekly: In Kenny Florian’s last couple of fights he’s won with some elbow strikes and standing, first with Chris Leben and then Alex Karalexis. Do you think he’ll come out and strike with you or do you think he’s going to look to the ground right away?
Kit Cope: Kenny’s a smart guy. I highly doubt he will try to stand up with me. It will be quite a surprise if he tries to stand up with me. I’ve had two of the top grapplers in the world trying to take me down for the last month up at Big Bear, so am I worried about his takedowns? No, I’m well prepared for his takedowns. I’m well prepared to thwart his attempts at shots, to thwart his attempts at throws, to thwart his attempts at body locks. He doesn’t want to tie up with me I’ll tell you that. I’ve been fighting full rules muay thai with elbows in Thailand for the last 12 years. I’m definitely not afraid of J-Lo’s elbows.
MMAWeekly: Was this a three fight deal that you signed with the UFC?
Kit Cope: No, one fight deal, I only sign one fight deals. The UFC is obviously the number 1 MMA organization in the States, and fighting for the UFC, especially this early in my MMA career is a serious, heartfelt honor to me. I know a lot of fighters, with many more fights than I have that would kill to be in the spot I’m in right now. I know guys that would actually pay the UFC just to fight in the UFC. I’m very, very grateful to Dana White and Joe Silva for giving me this opportunity to show off a little bit.
MMAWeekly: Will you go back to the UFC if you win?
Kit Cope: Absolutely, it’s my gameplan. I think they’ll be so happy with what they see, I’ll definitely get the invite back.
MMAWeekly: What can we expect in this fight?
Kit Cope: I guess above all else, entertainment. Because when I fight, I’m having fun. I fight because it’s fun. I don’t fight because I’ve got some aggression that I need to spit out on the world. I don’t fight because I didn’t breast feed long enough. I fight because it’s fun for me, and when people are having fun, people are laughing and they’re smiling. So if you watch closely, you’ll see me laughing and smiling the whole time I’m beating the crap out of somebody. It’s fun for me, it’s a game. If me and Kenny were sitting down to a game of checkers it would be the same thing. I don’t have any ill will, I don’t hate Ken-Flo, I don’t even dislike the kid, I’ve only really disliked one person I’ve fought in my entire life and I broke his leg. You won’t see me trying to hype myself up to be mean before the fight, it’s just fun for me. I harbor no ill feelings towards Flo-Jo, I just really hope he has a job after I’m done with him.
Kit Cope will make his UFC debut on November 5th in Las Vegas versus Kenny Florian.