While most UFC debutants would be happy to come away with a brutal knockout as their opening salvo, Cyrille Diabaté is less than impressed at how he showed in his first trip to the Octagon. He sees UFC 120 as a chance to really showcase his skills to the fans.
“I got too lazy and too relaxed against Luiz Cane and got nailed. I hate doing that, but I’m going to make sure it never happens again,” he offered honestly, adding that he will be looking to make a statement against Alexander Gustafsson. “I hope everybody enjoys this next one as I’ll make sure it’s an entertaining one.”
Considering the sheer amount of European fighters on the card, it would have been easy to throw the Frenchman against an established American from the 205-pound division. Instead, he is set to throw down with the highly touted Swede. This further highlights the UFC’s intentions of building a stronger market base on the continent, but does Diabaté feel any additional pressure as a fighter representing France in the promotion?
“No, I’m just happy that people here in France are becoming more and more appreciative of mixed martial arts as a sport. Since RTL9 has been broadcasting the events, the UFC fan base has exploded.”
Considering the increased awareness in the public domain, it may surprise American readers to know that MMA still remains illegal in France.
“There can be no strikes on the ground, so this means French pro MMA fighters have still got to leave the country to be able to fight. It’s a shame because of the caliber of fighters we have here at the moment.”
Over the years, there have been several fantastic competitors originate from France, such as Xavier Foupa-Pokam, Cheick Kongo, Karl Amoussou, and Jess Liaudin, but the lack of domestic shows to compete on is hampering their full progression. Still, it means that the leader of Team Snake has a hidden pool of talent to train with for his fight this weekend.
“I have a lot of strikers to choose from here at the Snake Team in Paris. All shapes and sizes,” he offered in response to a question about emulating the range of his opponent, but he is quick to point out that he thinks Gustafsson may try to fight at different levels this time.
“I think he will change it up more, probably bang a little then go for a takedown to put me on my back. He has hard hitting boxing and good wrestling with ground and pound.”
In closing, even though perceptions are that he is primarily a striker because of his love of Muay Thai, Diabaté is keen to point out that he really doesn’t mind where this fight takes place, standing or on the mat.
“When it does go to the ground, I’ll be more than happy to show people that I am not a one-dimensional fighter. It’s going to be an exciting fight.”