On paper, the UFC 110 matchup between Australians Elvis Sinosic (8-11-2) and Chris Haseman (20-16-0) may look like a meaningless battle; a meeting between two aging competitors who have spent the bulk of the last three years on the sidelines, and not in the cage.
But for Australian MMA fans, this bout is an historic event.
This is their Couture versus Coleman, minus the UFC hype machine. These two men helped launch the sport of mixed martial arts in the land of kangaroos and koalas, and now they’re getting a chance to renew their rivalry on the biggest stage of them all, in front of their Australian fans. At least that’s how Elvis Sinosic sees it.
“I think it is an amazing opportunity for Australian MMA. It is something I have been hoping would happen for a long time,” offered the most well-known MMA fighter to ever come out of Canberra. “It will give fighters and promoters fantastic exposure which help the sport grow and give greater opportunities.”
When the UFC announced this event, Australian media started an attack on the sport, citing John McCain’s infamous “human cockfighting” quote and depicting the sport as savage and brutal. Less than a week before the event, perceptions seem to have shifted according to “The King of Rock ‘n Rumble.”
“I think since the UFC is such a big event they have taken the time to try and become educated as to what MMA is. I’ve spoken to quite a few journalists recently, and they appear to genuinely want to learn about [the sport] and what is involved. So far it has been all good.”
For Australian MMA, this bout is actually bigger than Couture versus Coleman. While the UFC 109 main event was pushed as a fight that was finally taking place after first being scheduled years before at UFC 17, Sinosic and Haseman first met 13 years ago when Haseman submitted Sinosic with a chin to the eye.
You read that correctly—a chin to the eye. The times have changed since Cage Combat 1.
Many fans have been patiently waiting for this rematch, and with his recent comments to UFC.com about this bout, it appears Chris Haseman has been looking forward to it as well.
While Haseman admitted that he “honestly just [doesn’t] like [Sinosic],” the feeling is not reciprocated by “The King of Rock and Rumble,” who says that avenging his 1997 loss to Haseman or animosity of any kind has never been a part of the equation.
“I have no personal issues with Chris and he can say what he wants,” said Sinosic. “Revenge has never been a factor. I have great respect for everyone that steps into the cage. What happened in the past helped build who I am today. Nothing I do now will change that.”
Some of those past experiences include registering a win over Jeremy Horn in his debut with the UFC, an upset Fight! Magazine ranked as their 10th-biggest upset in the sport’s history back in November 2008.
“Really, who were the other nine?,” joked Sinosic before adding, “Being an upset just means people didn’t know what you were capable of before the fight.”
Looking back, it’s understandable why people underestimated the unknown Aussie, as submission specialist Horn had already accumulated 45 wins and was coming off a decision loss to UFC icon Randy Couture. But that night, Sinosic was the better man, and he hopes to be the better man again on Saturday.
When asked whether this bout could serve as a “farewell fight” in front of his home crowd, Sinosic offered the same response many fighters have used before him.
“When I started, I told myself I would retire at 30. At 30, I told myself I’d retire at 33. At 33, I thought I’d retire at 35. When I reached 35 I figured I’d retire at 38. Now that I am 39 I figure I’ll retire when the time is right. It will happen when it happens. What is important is the next fight. After that I’ll take things one at a time.”
Some MMA fans have brought up Sinosic’s age and recent inactivity as reason to keep him off the card, but the Australian MMA pioneer has heard it all before, and can look to the last UFC main event as an answer for his detractors.
“With age you can look at someone like Randy and realize that it is training, not age that is relevant. As to records, when you look behind the numbers, sometimes it says more than the numbers alone. My record shows that I have faced world class competitors pretty much my entire career. As to recent lack of activity, that was not by choice but circumstance.”
While he hasn’t been in the cage for over two years leading into this event, Sinosic has kept busy, running Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts (SMPA) with business partner and fellow fighter Anthony Perosh.
But since the UFC offered Sinosic a place on their inaugural Australian event, he’s shifted his focus to getting into shape and preparing for this long-awaited opportunity.
“[I started preparing] when I got the offer late last year. The first part was just getting back into fighting shape here in Sydney, mostly doing cardio and the relevant training drills,” said the now 39-year-old Sinosic, who added that getting down to fighting weight hasn’t been as hard as he expected. “I actually thought it would be harder; I started at about 225lbs when I got the call for the fight. That is pretty much the heaviest I’ve ever been. But as in all my previous preparations I’ve made weight just but training hard.”
Sandwiched between training at his own gym, Sinosic embarked on an overseas training odyssey, fine-tuning his fighting skills at various stops. Included in the training trip were stops at Tiger Muay Thia in Phuket, Thailand to work stand-up, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Dallas, Texas with Carlos Machado, and a few weeks of work in Las Vegas with Shawn Tompkins and Robert Drysdale.
Saturday night, Elvis Sinosic will step into the Octagon for the eighth time in his career. This time, he’s standing on the biggest stage in the sport in his homeland, something Sinosic doesn’t take for granted.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me. I’ve been involved with the UFC since UFC 30, and I’ve always travelled and faced the hometown favourites. Finally, I get a chance to stand in from of my hometown. That alone is worth it.”
Elvis Sinosic helped put Australian MMA on the map, and that makes him more than deserving of a place on the UFC 110 card. Anyone who can’t see that hasn’t been paying attention.
A message from Elvis:
I would like to thank all those how have supported me over the years; my friends, family, and all the students at SPMA. I’d like to thank everyone who helped me overseas in my preparation, those at Tiger Muay Thai, TapouT Gym, Warrior Gym, Xtreme and Drysdale’s.
I’d like to thank my trainers, Anthony Perosh and Gary Edwards. I’d like to shout out to my sponsors: Lojak Fightwear - www.lojakfightwear.com , Cage Fighter Australia - cagefighter.com.au, MMA Warehouse - www.mmawarehouse.com , GammaO - www.gammao.com , Hayabusa - www.hayabusafightwear.com, Gun Store Las Vegas - www.thegunstorelasvegas.com , Manumission - www.fightceuticals.com, KO Reps - www.KOreps.com , Fightwear International - www.fightwear.com.au , Fairtex - www.fairtex.com
MMA Madness would like to thank Elvis Sinosic for taking the time to talk to us.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!