One of the best featherweights never to set foot in the United States is Marlon Sandro. You may have heard of his Nova Uniao teammate and WEC featherweight champion, Jose Aldo.
The 33-year-old Sandro, a world-beater in his own right, has accumulated a 16–1 career record to date. The one loss is certainly up for debate. It occurred in August 2009 against Michihiro Omigawa in the third round of the Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix.
When the judge’s scores were rendered they read as follows: 30-30 draw, 30-30 draw, 30-29 Sandro. In other words, it was a majority draw. Per Sengoku rules, however, it had to go to a "must decision." The two judges who originally scored the fight a draw both gave the nod to Omigawa.
Sandro has since won two straight, both via first round knockout, and he is now scheduled to face Masanori Kanehara on June 20. First prize is Kanehara’s SRC featherweight title.
Between training sessions Sandro took some time out to discuss his controversial loss to Omigawa, his relationship with Jose Aldo, and his desire to take on America someday.
Check it out:
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): World Victory Road announced recently they would adhere to "unified rules" with regards to the weight class limits moving forward. The featherweight limit you will now be competing at is 145 pounds instead of 143 pounds. Are you okay with the change and do you think it will have any sort of positive or negative impact?
Marlon Sandro: For sure it is positive for the sport. If all shows make the same it is perfect. For me is really good, because I cut a lot of weight to fight in my division.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): I want to briefly go back to your controversial loss to Michihiro Omigawa in the Sengoku featherweight grand prix. How disappointed were you with the judge’s decision?
Marlon Sandro: Sometimes it is very difficult understanding the judges. Everybody knows I won the fight and the judges give the fight for Omigawa. In my opinion, when this situation happens the fighter needs to have a chance to have other judges see the video, and the result can change if the first set of judges are wrong. In my mind, I'm still undefeated.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You’re confident you won the fight. What rounds do you feel you won and why?
Marlon Sandro: In my mind, I did not lose any round. I connected more punches than him and I fight much more aggressive them him.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Is it true that one of Omigawa’s coaches was one of the judges for the fight? Did that play a role in the decision that was rendered?
Marlon Sandro: I don't know for sure about that, but I know his coach is a partner with Sengoku.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you think he should have been allowed to judge the fight?
Marlon Sandro: I don’t know.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Did you or your management try to argue the decision or file a formal complaint with tournament officials?
Marlon Sandro: Yes, my coach wrote a letter to the Sengoku commission, but the judges did not change the result.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): You’re facing Masanori Kanehara on June 20 with his SRC featherweight title on the line. He’s a guy that called you out recently. Usually the contenders call out the champion, but in this case it was the other way around. What was your reaction when you heard that Kanehara wanted to fight you?
Marlon Sandro: I'm very happy because he made my job easier. Now I don’t need to call him to fight with me. I would like say thank you to him. He wants me and I want him, too.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Kanehara is very tall for a featherweight and has a big reach. How do you deal with an opponent with those physical features from a tactical standpoint?
Marlon Sandro: I have in my gym a lot of guys like him. It is no problem for me.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): What is Kanehara’s biggest weakness that you’ve noticed watching his fights?
Marlon Sandro: Sorry, I can’t tell you. After the fight I can answer for you.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you watch a lot of tape on your opponents in your preparations for an opponent?
Marlon Sandro: Everyday.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Do you have a prediction regarding the outcome of your fight?
Marlon Sandro: Yes, I win by TKO.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): How many fights do you have left on your contract with World Victory Road?
Marlon Sandro: After Kanehara, two more fights.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Would you be open to fighting in the United States in the WEC or in Bellator in the future?
Marlon Sandro: I love to fight in Japan, but I want to fight in the United States, too.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Who is the best featherweight in the world in your opinion and where would you rank yourself?
Marlon Sandro: For sure Jose Aldo. I think I’m in the top ten.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): What is your relationship like with Aldo both inside and out of the gym?
Marlon Sandro: In my team everybody is like a brother. Andre (Pederneiras) makes the gym like a family. I think this is the reason that my team is the best light weight team in the world
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Tell us one thing about Aldo that may surprise some of his fans in the United States or make them laugh?
Marlon Sandro: He loves to play video games all day. He is crazy with his video games.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Would you ever fight Aldo under any circumstances?
Marlon Sandro: Nooooo way.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Would you consider moving to the bantamweight division (135-pound limit) if you came over to the United States to avoid Aldo? Can you make that weight?
Marlon Sandro: I can make but I don't want to. Normally I cut 35 pounds (to hit the 145-pound limit). I don't want to cut more.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Any message you would like to pass along or any sponsors you would like to thank at this time?
Marlon Sandro: I want say thanks to God for giving me health to training everyday. I want to say thanks to Andre Pederneiras because he gives me all the support I need. He believed in me. Thirteen years ago he gave me a chance to train for free in his school. He is like a father for the whole team. He helps everybody all the time. My team loves him.
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): Thank you Marlon. Best of luck in your upcoming fight.
Derek Bolender is a frequent contributor to MMAmania.com. He is also a freelance writer who has contributed to outlets such as CBSSports.com, FoxSports.com, and FIGHT! Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekBolender.