All 4 corners of the UK have been in high anticipation for the biggest organisation in Mixed Martial Arts next trip to English shores. UFC 286 is just a over 6 weeks away, and what a card Dana White is piecing together for his return across the Atlantic.
Many athletes are set to take the walk to the Octagon that night at the 02, but one man in particular will be counting down the days since earning a contract at Dana White’s Contender Series, Team Crossface’s Sam Patterson.
I took a trip down to Team Crossface to catch Sam training, and grab a chat with Sam to gain an insight into what his debut means to him.
Sam ‘The Future’ Patterson (10-1-1) is an English professional Mixed Martial Artist currently competing in the Lightweight division, representing Team Crossface. He has competed for Fightstar Championship, Brave CF, Super Fight League, Killacam Promotions, Rise of Champions MMA, succeeded in gaining a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series and makes his UFC debut on March 18th on the UFC 286 card in London.
I’d like to kick things off as always by thanking you for taking the time to speak with me again today Sam, and also to congratulate you on your debut on March 18th.
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“It’s a pleasure, thank you very much for coming back down, I’ve always said you’re welcome here. I can’t wait for my UFC debut, not long now.”
It’s great to be able to witness the work you’re putting in again, I appreciate you allowing me to come witness it. I bet, I know you’ve been very eager to get back out there.
“Yeah, I wanted to get out there before the end of the year. I fought in September, and I came out pretty much injury free. I tried to get out on the December card but there wasn’t any availability, they were fully booked. February was mentioned to me, but I knew a couple of weeks after that was the London card. To have my debut in my hometown, it’s a dream come true really.”
It’s definitely a dream for any warrior, to make a debut at home is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I don’t blame you for holding out. And what card as well, they’ve really outdone themselves this time.
“Oh a hell of a card, what a card.”
The Edwards vs Usman trilogy for the Main-Event.
“Justin Gaethje too, Fucking hell. There goes everyone’s 50g bonus, because Gaethje is taking that 50g’s. But I’ll be going for it, that’s for sure.”
I’ve no doubt one bit mate.
How have you taken to camp leading up to your long awaited UFC debut?
“Yeah, it’s been good. 7 weeks out now, I wasn’t given an opponent just a date, we began preparations straight away. I started on Boxing day so yeah, I’ve been non stop since then, it’s gonna be another improved version of me. I’ve been non-stop, after my fight in September I’ve not been sitting on the couch, I’ve been here everyday to improve my skill-set and level up my whole game.”
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From what I’ve seen on your socials as well as here, you are going above and beyond for March.
The wait is finally over, since your successful capture of a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series back in October last year. You’ve been given a name and more importantly no doubt, the Location.
How does it feel to be taking the next step on your professional journey, as well as it being in the familiar surroundings of London?
“It’s amazing you know, after 4 to 5 fights fighting abroad, fighting for other organisations, travelling the world to come home and fight for the biggest organisation in the world in my hometown, it’s what books and stories are made of. I’m really looking forward to fighting back at home, so make sure to tune in.”
I had a feeling it would be London.
“Yeah, I’d have liked to have got out earlier as I wanna stay active. The thing is, if I’m healthy, I wanna fight. I love to fight and I love to train, the only thing that stops you from being active is injury. If you’ve never experienced injury you wouldn’t know but, if you’ve had injuries that have stopped you from competing, all you wanna do when you’re healthy is go out there, so you make the most of it while you can, it’s a short window competing.”
Dana White’s Contender Series over the years, has added some well rounded warriors such as yourself to the roster. And most recently, the series’ first Champion in Jamahal Hill. What can fans come to expect when you take your 1st walk to the Octagon?
“Entertainment, I’ve said from the beginning that I’m always looking to finish. We’ve got 15 minutes to find the finish, and I normally do within that time so this will be no different. I believe that the competition I was up against outside of the UFC, was just as good as I’ll be facing with the UFC at this level. I’m gonna go in there and do what I do, and I believe when I do what I do, there’s not many who can beat me, especially in the Lightweight division. I’ve got a lot of attributes a lot of Lightweights don’t have, as long as I can do what I do, I believe I’ll do pretty well.”
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I agree with you completely regarding the level of competition you faced at BRAVE, they’ve got a high calibre roster.
“Any of them could have been UFC fights, you know, any of my last 3 or 4 opponents could have been on a UFC card with the level of opposition I had. Finally now, I’m gonna get the recognition I deserve for beating them guys. I don’t believe I got that much recognition beating the level I did, and I believe now I will.”
Thoroughly deserved too mate.
Only time will tell, but many have tipped you to one day add your name to the list of Dana White’s Contender Series future champions. A flattering notion to you no doubt?
“Yeah for sure, it’s nice to be recognised as that, and people actually thinking I could do that, I believe I will do that. The great thing is that I’m not in any rush as I’m still young, I’m 26 years old, I believe I’ve got 10 years in the UFC. I’ve said it from the get go, I want a career in the UFC, not just 1 or 2 fights. Within that 10 years I’d have thought I’d definitely have challenged for the title, if not brought it home, that’s the plan. I’ve got 10 years to get the title, I believe I will become a UFC Champion whether it’s Lightweight or Welterweight, we’ll see how my body grows over the next couple of years haha.”
Obviously it’s only early stages now, but the next stage of your career will no doubt give you a new set of personal goals to achieve to kick off the MMA 2023 calendar year. Have you set yourself any targets as you embark on your UFC journey?
“Yeah definitely, this year I plan on having 3 fights with 3 wins and at least 1 bonus. I’m not greedy hahaha, I’d love 3 bonuses but I’ll settle for 1. I believe for a UFC athlete, 3 fights within a is a good amount, I’ve no opposition in mind as I’m fully focused on me. I believe at this level, you get given who you get given, it’s not until you hit the top 15 that you start calling out names, and looking at opposition. So in 2023 I want 3 fights, 3 wins and at least 1 bonus.”
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As you said, even starting out, at the UFC you’re facing the best opposition.
Looking forward, you are set to take on Yanal ‘Red Fox’ Ashmoz. Undefeated in his professional career spanning over 6 years, who will also be looking to impress in his UFC debut at the 02.
What do you make of Yanal as you prepare to collide in the capital?
“I watched his last fight. The way I always look at it, If he’s improved since his last fight as much as my last fight, he fought a year ago to the day, so if he’s made the improvements I’ve made in the year, he’s not gonna be the same fighter I looked at. But as I said, I watched his last fight to get a look at his attributes, height and build etc. But I believe if I focus on what I do, I’ll beat this guy everywhere.”
Can’t wait man, I’m so buzzing to catch you out there.
With bouts being announced left right and centre, UFC 286 is set to be one of the biggest card’s Dana White has put together for his next trip across the Atlantic. Other than your inclusion on the night are there any announced match-ups in particular that you’re looking forward to witnessing?
“I gotta say the Leon Edwards vs Kamaru Usman rematch, everyone wants to see that. But the main fight I’m looking forward to is Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev, I rate Fiziev so much. When I was out at Tiger Muay-Thai, he was the striking coach, his levels are sick, I love it. I’m really looking forward to that, it’s a good match-up, I wanna get my fight done so i can sit and enjoy the show with everyone else.”
That addition was such a shock, as you said what a fight.
“What a great fight that is, his striking is on a serious level.”
It’s been a great experience visiting you here again today Sam, and a pleasure to catch up. I wish you all the best for the remainder of your camp and the best of skills for March.
“Thank you very much, again, pleasure having you down, you’re always welcome. I’ll see you on March 18th, it’s gonna be fun.”
Last but not least, do you have a message for the fans that will be in attendance and anybody you’d like to give a shout-out to?
“Shout-out to my team, thanks to everyone helping me to prepare and my sponsors. There’s too many of you to name, if I miss one I’m gonna feel worse so I’d rather just say I’m gonna tag you in this interview. And to the fans, enjoy the ride to come, March 18th is gonna be madness so tune in and enjoy the show.”
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