Highly regarded UFC welterweight prospect Amir Sadollah has certainly taken the path less traveled.
After a very brief amateur career, which included only three fights (all wins), Sadollah plunged headfirst onto SpikeTV's "The Ultimate Fighter" (TUF) season 7. With no professional victories Sadollah ran the table and won the show, earning a six-figure contract with the UFC and a reputation as one of the most exciting young fighters in the sport.
After taking the middleweight TUF tournament with a big win over tournament favorite C.B. Dollaway, Sadollah then dropped to welterweight to take on fellow undefeated top prospect Johny Hendricks. Hendricks shocked Sadollah and MMA fans around the world when he quickly dispatched of the heavily favored New York native via controversial TKO less than a minute into the fight. Many believed that the fight was prematurely called.
However, the stoppage, though controversial, saddled Sadollah with his first MMA loss and dealt the young sambo black belt a chance to show his ability to bounce back from adversity.
The victories earned Sadollah a step up in competition as he's tabbed to take on noted judoka and undefeated MMA up-and-comer Kim Dong-hyun at UFC 114 on May 29.
Sadollah recently sat down with Gavin Vincent of FiveKnuckles.com to discuss training, his upcoming fight with Dong-hyun, what he learned from his loss to Hendricks and much more.
FiveKnuckles.com: So how is camp coming along? Are you staying away from the injury bug?
Amir Sadollah: "Yeah, knock on wood so far [laughs]. I feel great. It's been a productive camp, and I found a combination of guys that I really respond to. I always try to get better in all areas at every camp. You have to tailor your training to a specific fight, but at the same time you're never so good that you can't get better. That's always the general goal because you never know how a fights going to go. There are specific tweaks for certain fights that you may find useful."
FiveKnuckles.com: What about injuries? Would you say your injured nearly every time you go into a fight?
Amir Sadollah: "Nah, but you are never 100% that's for sure. At this level it's not like you can just say, 'Meh, I'll just fight next time.' You are pretty obligated to fight and as a fighter it's a hard line to walk. At what point do you say, 'Well I'm injured and I'm not going to give my best performance so I should fight later, or do I just tough through this and do my best?' It's a hard call always. Ideally you have to be in tough with yourself to a point where you know if you are able to fight or not. Your camp definitely has some input if you need a kick in the pants and need to get over it or if you are being too tough for your own good."
FiveKnuckles.com: Speaking of camps, you're at one of the most prestigious in the world at Xtreme Couture where you have a wide variety of top level talent to train with. Who do you train with mostly?