Fight promoters were hoping for Tim Lincecum when they found Rameau Sokoudjou, Lincecum was a high schooler that burst into the Major Leagues dominating hitters twice his age.
But instead they got Dontrelle Willis. Yeah, Willis was great in 2003 when he burst onto the scene and he dominated in his first three years in the league.
However but the league adjusted to his awkward delivery and now Willis is back in the minor leagues trying to tap into his amazing physical talents to a more consistent delivery.
Many are confident of Willis' ability to bounce back because of his youth, athletic ability and drive to excel.
Similarly, Sokoudjou was tagged as a future star in his first five professional fights after he KOed Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona, both in a combined time of less than three minutes.
He was brought to the UFC on a star fighter's contract and has been badly exposed by elite competition. Does Sokoudjou have the talent to become a real player? Yes. Does he have the polish and skill set to fight the elite 205-pound fighters? No.
His striking is impressively powerful, and while Muay Thai isn't his first martial art, he has taken to it very quickly, helping coach kick boxing at Team Quest.
Judo is his first discipline, and while he had great success in competitive judo but MMA seems to have revealed his focus was mainly in the takedown game of judo.
Sokoudjou's ground game is extremely weak, with a very passive guard and almost no submission skills. His standup, while very powerful, it takes a severe toll on his energy.
His cardio is a serious problem, often gassing out after just one round, and then proving easy prey for his opponents, who are able to able to take him to the ground and either submit him or pound him out.
Sokoudjou's most recent match in Affliction was a must-win bout and his rather disappointing loss showed a complete ignorance of ground defense.
At the age of 24, Sokoudjou has time to learn the fight game, which he is very new to, but his mental game likely cannot take many more defeats in the fashion he is suffering.
Sokoudjou's manager took him on a tour of K-1, Dream, and finally Affliction looking for the big money, but now he likely will be a bargain fighter for smaller promotions and that is where he should be.
Sokoudjou will build himself back up against inferior competition, and use them as rough sparring matches to learn how to fight his way into the third round or work his way off his back. In this model, he can work his way back to the major promoters with consistent performance and not on the coattails of two fluky wins.
Another benefit is if he works his way back from a small promoter like Total Combat or Rage in the Cage to a larger league like K-1 or DREAM and possibly back into the UFC, there won't be the expectations of being the 'next big thing'.
Its possible he could come to an agreement with Affliction for a few "training" fights, but in any event it is very clear that Sokoudjou doesn't belong in a ring or cage with a top 20 LHW fighter until he gets a gas tank and a guard.
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