Sam Sicilia has no ill will towards the UFC despite the fact that he’s now competing in Bellator MMA.
In fact, Sicilia appreciates every opportunity that the UFC gave to him after joining the promotion by way of “The Ultimate Fighter” season 15. Still it was hard for Sicilia to see himself as anything other than the spoiler by the way he constantly got matchups that had him traveling all over the globe to face fighters in their own backyard.
Sicilia fought Brazilians in Brazil, Swedish fighters in Sweden, Japanese fighters in Japan and Korean fighters in South Korea. One glance at his record seems to show that Sicilia definitely had a pattern with the way he was being booked in the UFC and while he had no problem taking fights no one else seemed to want, he just wanted a reprieve every now and again and never got one.
“I felt like I kind of fell into a role with the UFC. I’m not bashing them or anything but when you look at my career, that’s what it was,” Sicilia said when speaking to MMAWeekly. “I was the guy would go in and fight these guys in their home country. It’s like a football team that only had away games. It gets old. I don’t mind doing these things and I always tried to put a positive spin on it. I appreciated these opportunities I was given but it’s like throw me something every once in a while.
“The focus is way more there [in Bellator]. It was like falling into the role of ‘hard hitter who travels internationally’. I get to be more myself.”
That change in scenery definitely helped Sicilia in his first fight with Bellator last December as he earned a unanimous decision win that put an end to his losing skid that closed out his career with the UFC.
Rather than traveling halfway across the world to face a fighter in their own home country, Sicilia was able to compete in the U.S. against a former champion to kick off his Bellator career.
Now this weekend at Bellator 198, Sicilia will have a chance to take another big step forward when he faces Emmanuel Sanchez in a main card bout that will undoubtedly put him that much closer to a title shot with a win.
Of course, Sicilia knows that this fight is no easy task, which is why he’s paying Sanchez all the attention he’s due before stepping into the cage with him this weekend.
“Looking at his record, he has a great record. He has seen that final bell a lot. He’s a hard worker. He’s always working. He’s always doing something,” Sicilia said. “That’s how he’s edging these guys. He’s out working them really so you’ve got to go in there and out work him.
“You cannot let him take off with that win. He will do that.”
While Sicilia would love a knockout, he no longer feels like that’s the only way he’s going to get the win much less keep his job. Instead, Sicilia is just focused on getting his hand raised by any means necessary.
“It feels like a clean start,” Sicilia said. “It’s just about going out there and fighting. Just focus on winning and that’s all I focus on for 15 minutes.”