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MONCTON, Canada – An opportunity to leap the bantamweight ranks didn’t work out as Andre Soukhamthath expected, but it made him grow as a fighter.
Soukhamthath (12-6 MMA, 1-3 UFC) is proud of the work he’s done so far, no matter what internet critics say.
“Last year was my first year in the UFC, and I fought four times, two times on late notice,” he told MMAjunkie in advance of UFC Fight Night 138. “I did a lot of things guys do in five years in one year. So my focus was all over the place.”
Soukhamthath said online trolls came out in force after he lost to Sean O’Malley (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) at UFC 222. He was called “the dumbest fighter in the UFC” more than once for his decision to take the fight to the canvas despite an ankle injury that might have ruled O’Malley out of the fight.
“But if you look at the fight, and we got ‘Fight of the Night,’ can you not respect my heart?” Soukhamthath said. “I got rocked the first round. I went into that fight with a nearly torn MCL. More than half of my camp was physical therapy. If I didn’t try to win the fight, we wouldn’t have got ‘Fight of the Night.’
“Everybody’s this-that, praising Sean O’Malley, but you need to praise me, too. Because I’m a warrior, and I don’t quit.”
O’Malley recently announced he failed a drug test under UFC anti-doping partner USADA and pegged a dietary supplement as the potential culprit. Soukhamthath didn’t revel in his former opponent’s misfortune but indicated he wasn’t completely convinced by the explanation offered.
“All I’ve got to say is, I know he’s making more bread than me,” Soukhamthath said. “He’s got like 300,000-something followers. He’s probably got a lot of sponsors. So if I can have a nutritionist and take the right stuff, there’s no reason he doesn’t have one.
“I’m sure he has people on his team, telling him what to take, telling him not to take – trainers, nutritionists, doctors. If I have it, he has to have it. That’s all I’m saying.”
A grudge isn’t the priority for Soukhamthath, though. He’s more concerned about pulling out of a skid that’s seen him lose three of four in the octagon. His next bout takes place Saturday against Jonathan Martinez and airs live on FS1 at Avenir Centre.
Soukhamthath returned to his native Florida to reconnect with old training partners and rekindle his flame. He believes a return to roots will get him back in the win column.
“I just learned that I need to focus on myself, be myself and focus on winning fights,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, it’s family and fighting. That’s my lifestyle, and that’s what’s going to get me where I need to be.”
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