Sam Sicilia Staying Focused on Winning in Transition from UFC to Bellator

Sam Sicilia
(Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

MMA veteran Sam Sicilia (15-9 MMA) is looking to build his way back up in the featherweight rankings with a win over Derek Campos (19-7 MMA) at Bellator 212.

Sicilia has competed in the best organizations within North America and this Friday, December 14th at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sam is hungry to prove why he belongs with the best in the world.

After going 1-4 in his last five, Sicilia is approaching this fight differently. He wants to take on Campos in the smartest way possible. Sicilia has been known for his entertaining fights within the octagon, but this time he wants to focus on winning. Since joining the Bellator organization in 2017, Sicilia has gone 1-1. He most recently suffered a first-round submission loss to Emmanuel Sanchez back in April of this year

Falling into a role

“You know really, I fell into a role. I was the guy that went over and fought overseas and fought the hometown hero, or whoever” Sicilia began telling MMASucka. “I fought Doo Ho Choi in South Korea before anyone know who he was, before the fight with Cub [Swanson]. I go into these places kind of adopting that role. I was kind of grouped with a couple of guys. As soon as I saw some guys getting booked, I knew I was getting booked to fight. I was part of this pack and I couldn’t really break out”.

Sam Sicilia had never refused to fight anyone in his career. Early on he adopted the tough guy attitude. Fight anywhere, anytime, anyone. He believes that attitude and the long layoffs lead him to a few inconsistent performances.

Getting away from the brawler label

Since his departure from the UFC, Sicilia has had time to reflect. He has wanted to shed his brawler image for some time. However, it seems that style of fighting always seems to find it’s way back to Sam.

When asked if personally thinks he has been successful in transition into a different style of fighting, Sicilia disagrees. “Not really. I mean, I wasn’t successful in that last fight. I kind of got a little caught up in scrambling. In my head, I was thinking ‘oh shit, slow this down’. You know it’s mostly for me getting comfortable in there, but the way in the professionalism and the way I train, capitalizing on mistakes, its hard for me to go in there and force the grappling”.

“If it happens, when I’m chucking bombs and we end up clinched or we end up grappling, then that’s fine. To be like throw this combo up, then when he puts his hands up and shoot underneath that, that’s not my style”.

The transition from UFC to Bellator

Being a long time fighter for the UFC, the big stage is nothing new for Sam Sicilia. Competing within the UFC organization since 2012 and compiling a 5-7 record, Sicilia has had the opportunity to fight the best in the world. It took Sicilia and his management team only 10 months to find his new home within Bellator.

In his debut for the organization, Sicilia defeated Marcos Galvao (18-8-1 MMA) via unanimous decision. He is bringing all the tools that made him successful in the UFC with him, while also keeping the lessons he learned in his losses.

“[The transition] has been great, you know. I think the UFC is a great promotion if you are a little more of a personality and are looking to be a superstar or something. Me, I’m pretty boring in that way. I’m a shut your mouth and do your job kinda guy”.

Sicilia explained that he thinks fighters try harder when they feel the pressure of the UFC. After the McGregor era and his success, younger fighters are continuously attempting to re-create the trash talking enigma in hopes of mimicking his accomplishments. “I tried that on a little bit, but it just didn’t feel genuine. I don’t like it. I don’t like shit talking anyone, really. Unless I get shit talked. I’m not gonna start that, I don’t know these guys, I’m fighting them and I don’t really care to.”

“I feel like it’s more about that fight than the lights, here at Bellator”.

The motivation to win

Sicilia is feeling the pressure for this fight. Now 1-4 in his last five, he knows he has to step his game up. His opponent Derek Campos, is the opposite of Sam and is now 4-1 in his last five. This is motivation for Sicilia as he prepares for this tough match-up

“I always fight for the big, different motivation. You know, the record, yeah I wish it was better. A lot of those losses I feel like I took something good from [and] took something shitty from. Kinda have to take it one fight at a time and you just really gotta have a short memory. Even when you win, its like, it’s nice to have momentum, but really I mean each fight is so real. You go into these tough fights and you just gotta not want out of it”.

“To me, this is what this fight is about. Pretty much to me, its like if you go in there and you do your damnest, then you’ll get good results. Once you start worrying about all this other shit that’s easy to worry about [because] there’s a lot going on, but if you stay focused and worry about how you’re performing, then you’re going to get good results”.

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