I recently conducted an email based interview with “The King Of Rock ‘n’ Rumble” Elvis Sinosic. This to some of you won’t seem like much but if you have ever read an interview with Elvis, you will know he gives very good answers to all questions presented to him.
Also, considering that the UFC has been talking about promoting a show in Australia in 2008 or shortly thereafter, I think it would be interesting to take a look at what the UFC would be getting themselves into. By that I mean, examining the MMA scene in Australia and what it would take to get people down under, interested in the world’s greatest Mixed Martial Art’s promotion.
Elvis Sinosic provides insight into a lot of this and much more. Read on to see.
Sam Cupitt: Elvis, thanks for the interview.
Elvis Sinosic: My pleasure.
Sam Cupitt: How are you since your last fight?
Elvis Sinosic: Other than extremely disappointed, I am otherwise fine.
Sam Cupitt: Your last fight was, as most will know, in Cage Rage on Dec 1st in England. As you said, a disappointing result, do you want to tell us a bit about the fight?
Elvis Sinosic: Well not really much to say. I went in feeling very good, well prepared and ready for a tough fight. I was moving forward feeling confident with my stand-up when Paul threw a lovely overhand right that landed on the button and dropped me. I hit the ground, he jumped on me and threw a punch, as I was turning towards him to recover guard, the referee came in from the blind side and stopped the fight. It was very disappointing, because even though I was in trouble, I still felt I was not out of the fight. Such is the fight game.
Sam Cupitt: Was your contract with Cage Rage only the one fight?
Elvis: Yes, that is correct.
Sam: There has been a lot of focus recently on expanding MMA into the UK, the main source being the UFC. How were the English fans? Are they receptive to MMA that isn’t the UFC?
Elvis: The UK fans are great. All the ones I met were very positive and supportive. They love their MMA as much as any other nation. It’s great to see the sport expanding across the globe.
Sam: Your last fight before Cage Rage was also in England. That of course being UFC 70, where you almost pulled out the victory early in the 2nd round against the hometown favourite, Michael Bisping. Did the UFC give you any feedback after the fight?
Elvis: Yes the UFC was very impressed with my performance, but due to the loss, I was asked to go out and get some more wins.
Sam: Your UFC career started back at UFC 30. You pulled off a pretty big upset at the time, when you submitted Jeremy Horn. How did you come to find yourself in the UFC?
Elvis:At that time I was taking a lot of short notice fights. Back then it was very difficult to get international fights due to the cost of travel from Australia. The only way promoters seemed willing to spend that money was on short notice fights when other fighters seemed reluctant to take the matches. I took a fight on UCC (now TKO) with Dave Beneteau on short notice (who also took the fight on short notice as both original main eventers pulled out). This got me some good exposure, which led to me getting a short notice fight with Frank Shamrock. Because I went the distance with Frank, it increased my international exposure as Frank was known for stopping all his opponents. When the UFC needed a replacement to fight Jeremy Horn because his opponent pulled out, I was the perfect choice. I took short notice fights, but also importantly, I had gone the distance with Frank who had submitted Jeremy, so this created a link between us and a story.
Sam: From that win, you scored yourself a title shot against, then champ, Tito Ortiz which was unsuccessful. How was it at the time fighting the UFC poster boy?
Elvis: That was a funny story. After I fought Jeremy I had actually discussed with my coach about fighting Tito, we both agreed that I should get a few fights in the UFC under my belt before even considering that match. But when the UFC called, the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. It was an amazing experience. Tito was a great fighter and huge name. So it was a fantastic opportunity to gain some huge international exposure and the opportunity to fight for a UFC World Title is something that does not come round very often. It was a great experience for me, and even though I lost, it still helped with my career.
Sam: After a couple more fights, you left the UFC. Was that an enforced leave or was it your decision?
Elvis: This was a decision from the UFC, they asked me to go out and get some more wins under my belt before returning, which I went out and did.
Sam: When you eventually came back to the UFC, many fans saw it as some what of a “gatekeeper” role. How did your return come about? Did you ask to come back or did Joe Silva seek you out?
Elvis: As discussed with the UFC I went out and got some wins under my belt. Then when the UFC needed an opponent, they approached me again. I am always looking for opportunities to fight, whether it be with the UFC or any other promotion.
Sam: How do you feel about the “Gatekeeper” tag?
Elvis: I’m not really fussed either way. My goal is to fight the best out there and keep on improving. Of course my goal is to be the best I can. If in the process some think of me as a Gatekeeper while I improve my game, so be it. I’m happy as long as I can put on competitive fights and the fans want to see me fight.
Sam: There have been a lot of remarks about how the UFC treats their fighters. How have you been treated and what are your thoughts on fighter pay at the moment?
Elvis: I’ve always been happy with the way the UFC treats me. Of course, like anybody else, I’d love to be paid more and earn a higher income. But in the end that responsibility comes down to me ensuring that I am a fighter that is sought after by putting on exciting fights and winning my matches. Just like any other business, it comes down to supply and demand. If you are a sought after commodity then you can demand a higher pay. The fact is that the pay scale and bonuses are always increasing in the UFC.
Sam: Now that we’ve covered the UFC, let us get to the important stuff. I take it you are back in Australia?
Elvis: Yes, I flew back the day after my fight. I was back running my gym SPMA (Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts), getting things sorted for Christmas and the New Year, a couple days after my fight.
Sam: SPMA is a gym run by you and your friend and fellow UFC veteran Antony Perosh. Can you tell us a bit about the gym?
Elvis: Our gym is doing very well. We have a great bunch of students who we are both very proud of. We run BJJ, Thai Kickboxing and Yoga classes for the Adults as well as classes for kids. We’ve been running for 5 ½ years and we have two locations, one in Concord and one in Liverpool. We also have a great MMA team which is always continuing to grow and improve. You can read more about our gym at www.spma.net.au.
Sam: Any potential world champions hanging around there?
Elvis: Absolutely, at the moment we have fighters like Shane Nix (4-0) and Steven Micallef (2-0) who are making great waves in the sport here. As well as guys like Jesse Landry, Ben Power, Chi Kit Cheung who’ve stepped up as well. We also have a bunch of guys who want to make that first step into MMA as well. And I shouldn’t forget my business/training partner Anthony Perosh who has just dropped down to LHW and has won his first match in his new weight class. We have a great training atmosphere and a great group of guys to train with. I have no doubt we will see future champions come out of our academy.
Sam: I mentioned earlier about MMA expanding to new countries. The UFC has mentioned Australia a couple of times when listing countries they’d like to visit. What’s your impression of the MMA scene in Australia right now?
Elvis: The MMA scene in Australia is growing. We’re at the stage now where controversy is fighting legitimacy. The fact that the sport is in the Media is a sign that we are gaining recognition. I think it is only a matter of time until the sport moves even further forward and grows successfully. We just have to stay strong and positive and ensure we present the sport in the most professional way. In my opinion it has always just been a matter of exposure and education that would allow the sport to grow and succeed here in Australia.
Sam: At the moment what do you believe is the most successful MMA event here in Australia? Organisation wise?
Elvis: I would probably say Warriors Realm, it seems to be the best show that has been around longest. CFC is doing really good things at the moment too though. KOTC seems to have slowed down dramatically lately. There is also X-agon which is starting out too. Xplosion is very good, but they do MMA and Kickboxing which works for them.
Sam: I don’t know if you’ve read but in Western Australia there was a lot of pressure put on a local member of parliament to ban a “lethal cagefighting” event and a little more recently NSW Premier Morris Iemma was asked about an MMA event and I believe the term “human cockfighting” was mentioned. How hard do you believe it would be to promote a show such as the UFC down here?
Elvis: As I mentioned, the sport here is growing and we are fighting controversy over legitimacy. The sport in WA has moved forward and has successfully held sanctioned events. The sport in NSW is moving forward as well with many recent successful events being held here. The latest road block was in the state of Victoria where ignorance was the major cause for concern. The term Cage Fighting was thrown around a lot with No Holds Barred and Blood Sport. No reference to MMA at all. It appears that the greatest concern was “the image” rather than what the sport truly represents. I believe with education of those involved that this situation can be turned around.
Sam: If you were in charge of UFC marketing how would you go about it? I think introducing Australian’s to the Ultimate Fighter on free to air television could only help.
Elvis: I agree, as I mentioned earlier, it has always been about exposure and education. Providing a free to air tv show such as TUF would only help to increase both situations. TUF is already on available on cable (FOX) here. I think that if it were on free to air TV that it could only further the exposure and growth of the UFC and MMA here in Australia. The UFC needs to push it’s exposure and marketing here in Australia if they want to take advantage of the market. It is already growing here and all it needs is a strong professional push to increase that exposure and help things grow.
Sam: I know I’ve asked you a lot of questions, but I assure you there’s only a few more…
Elvis: Always a pleasure, not a problem at all…
Sam: Do you see yourself as a fighter/trainer or are you an MMA fan and actually sit down and watch any event you can?
Elvis: I see myself as fighter/trainer/fan. I love being involved with the sport at all levels.
Sam: Ok now I would just like to get some quick thoughts on a couple of random issues. UFC 79?
Elvis: Liddell/Silva… finally.
Sam: The Ultimate Fighter?
Elvis: The birth of mainstream MMA.
Sam: Randy Couture’s “retirement”?
Elvis: These things happen.
Sam: Steroids in MMA?
Elvis: Just a part of any elite level sport. No difference in MMA or any other sport.
Sam: So finally, what are your plans for the future? Any more fights lined up or are you taking a break or possibly calling it quits?
Elvis: Just rest and recover to see the year out. I have a few injuries to get over. I plan to get back into training at the start of the new year. I plan to fight again early ’08, but as of yet no official fights lined up. I want to get right back into things, no break, no retirement, just get out there and fight.
Sam: Thanks a lot Elvis, you’re a class act. Anyone or thing you would like to thank?
Elvis: Always a pleasure, thanks for the opportunity to have my say. I’d just like to thank my friend, training and business partner Anthony Perosh, all my students, my family and friends for all their belief in me. I would like to thank my sponsors Atama and Fairtex for their continued support. I’d also like to make a special thanks to the radio show Dolphin Juice on Triple M (www.triplem.com.au) for giving me the opportunity to get on the radio and talk about MMA.
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