At UFC 55, Alessio Sakara was introduced to North American MMA fans.At UFC 55, Alessio Sakara was introduced to North American MMA fans. Alessio fought with Ron Faircloth and showed some of the best boxing in MMA since Vitor Belfort. It was said that Alessio was a boxing champion in Italy but not much is known by fans as to Alessios background and journey to be in the UFC.
Special thanx to Federico (Alessios Jiu-jitsu coach for this interview)
BALEIA: Alessio, first off could you give us a little history on the nickname, the Legionarre? Is this a nickname you chose, if so why?
Sakara: The legionaires were the soldiers of the ancient roman empire that travelled the world to fight, so I chose the nickname because I do basically the same thing, travelling the world to fight and representing the colors of Italy and Rome.
BALEIA: How did you get involved in MMA as it is known you were primarily a boxer?
Sakara: My uncle showed me a UFC tape when I was 19 and I immediately loved it. I wanted to do it, and now I am here.
BALEIA: When did you decide to make the first trip to Brazil and with who did you train with?
Sakara: I first left to train in Brazil because my jiu jitsu teachers in Itlay told me I would improve faster over there. I was 21 years old when I went there for the first time, and I immediately got recruited for Brazil Dojo by Wallid Ismael.
BALEIA: Where do you currently train? Brazil / Italy?
Sakara: I train in Rome and I still go to Brazil to train at least a couple of times every year.
BALEIA: Which team in Brazil are you affiliated with and why?
Sakara: I am not affiliated to anybody, I just train with my friends, like the Nogueiras, Pedro Rizzo and Shaolin and Nova Uniao, and Master De la Riva and Baruk, just to name a few.
BALEIA: Many people dont know but you had a battle with Ausuerrio Silva in Brazil a couple of years back. Ausuerrio is obviously not the same weight as you are, he is much much bigger. Do you feel that the fight with him was important for you as a warrior or was it just coincidence that you fought him and he was heavier. I ask this because, you sort of went against the North American philosophy to fight at the lowest division possible.
Sakara: I hade to make a name for myself. I got invited to fight him 2 weeks prior to the fight, and I accepted because it was a chance to gain visibility.
(Editors note: Sakara lost a three round decision at Jungle Fight 3)
BALEIA: What is your training regimine like?
Sakara: I train twice a day 5 days a week, once on Saturday, and rest on Sunday. I train jiu jitsu, boxing and muay thai together, and wrestling.
BALEIA: Any intentions to move to the United States to train or are you comfortable in Italy/Brazil?
Sakara: I am comfortable training in Rome. I have had other experiences but I think that a fighter trains better in his hometown enviroment.
BALEIA: How similar/different is the italian culture to lets say the brazilian or even american?
Sakara: Italian and Brazilian are more similar because they are more latin cultures, but American culture is very pragmatic and appreicate that very much.
BALEIA: Do you think you are a jack of all trades in mixed martial arts or are you a good boxer who trains just enough of the other styles?
Sakara: I try to complete myself a lot, but my boxing is still my main strength.
BALEIA: In your matchup with Dean Lister, you were unfortunately unable to land any signifigant strikes, would you ever consider cutting down to make the 185 pound division to possibly rematch Dean?
Sakara: No, I want to stay in the Light Heavyweights, and I am not really concerned with rematches in general.
BALEIA: Its not a secret that you’ve been training in jiu-jitsu for a while now. Any chance your fans might see you put the gi on to enter a BJJ tournament or maybe a submission wrestling tournament?
Sakara: I already competed in jiu jitsu as a blue belt in Brazil in some minor tournaments, and in submission wrestling. I am a professional fighter focusing in MMA, but if the time is right I like to roll in submission tournaments.
BALEIA: How bad would you like to rematch Ron Faircloth???
Sakara:: Not at all. Ron didn’t hit me on purpose, and we are buddies now. Accidents like that happen in fighting.
(Editors note, this bout was ruled a no contest after an unintentional kick to the groin at UFC 55)
BALEIA: What in your opinion, is the key for a fighter to have a successful career?
Sakara: to be good in one thing and complete enough in the others. Have determination, an influential manager, and sponsors that help you pay the bills!
BALEIA: In your opinion, who is the top fighter in MMA?
Sakara: there are so many today, I really couldn’t name only one.
BALEIA: If you could train with one instructor of boxing, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, muay thai, who would it be and why?
Sakara:: The ones I have right now, because they know me well and helped me progress very much in a relatively short period of time.
BALEIA: What did you think of the BJ Penn/Matt Hughes fight?
Sakara: I think BJ was doing a great job until he injured his ribs. I think that Hughes is as always a very tough guy, both mentally and physically.
BALEIA: Some people are saying that BJJ is way overated and is not effective. Do you agree or disagree and why?
Sakara: I totally disagree. If you don’t know jiu jitsu you can’t fight MMA. If it wasn’t for jiu jitsu, modern MMA wouldn’t exist and I would be doing something else.
BALEIA: Are you still under contract with the UFC and if so when will you be fighting again?
Sakara: Yes I am, for another 3 fights in the next 12 months, and I will be fighting again very soon.
BALEIA: In which country do you feel you have the biggest fan base?
Sakara: IN Brazil
BALEIA: Anyone you would like to thank? sponsors, friends
Sakara:I would like to thank my family. all of my fans, coaches and training partners,and everyone that suppports me. And thank you for this interview.