Photo via Bellator
MMAmania.com has an exclusive interview with Bellator 86 headliner and welterweight title challenger Karl Amoussou about the big changes he's made for his career in the past year, wanting to finish Askren quickly and why he feels there's nothing to be afraid of against the former US Olympic wrestler.
There will be an incredibly stark contrast of fighting mentalities in the main event of Bellator 86 tomorrow night.
While champion Ben Askren has built a reputation as a grinder, a fighter who has no problem utilizing his wrestling to neutralize and smother opponents for the full 25 minutes, his challenger, Karl Amoussou, just wants to finish it as fast as possible.
Amoussou put away two of his season six welterweight tournament opponents inside the first round, submitting Bryan Baker in just 56 seconds to win $100,000 and earn a title shot against the "Funky" champion.
If "Psycho" has his way tomorrow night, he'll finish Askren even faster than that.
The veteran French fighter has promised to "bring excitement back to the Bellator welterweight division" and if he can stop Askren inside the opening frame, he'll be well on his way to keeping that promise.
The American Top Team fighter spoke with MMAmania.com about the big changes he's made for his career in the past year, wanting to finish Askren quickly and why he feels there's nothing to be afraid of against the former US Olympic wrestler in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How are you feeling so close to the biggest fight of your life?
Karl Amoussou: I feel great, man. Of course, it's the biggest fight of my life and I feel good. I'm confident I'm gonna win the fight and I've done everything to be ready so yeah, I feel good.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's start with some of the big moves you've made to help prepare yourself for this fight. One of the biggest changes was you quit your job as an undercover police officer to train MMA full time. What were some of the biggest changes you noticed in your training and skills when you started working full time in MMA?
Karl Amoussou: It has been one year now. I originally did it to prepare for the tournament and to focus on dropping down to welterweight. I used to fight at middleweight and everyone was bigger than me but now I'm 4-0 since making the cut and I feel great. My training has been so good. I went from training four times a week to training 2-3 times a day for 5-6 days a week. Yeah, I've improved a lot and I think I've shown it in all my fights this past year. My striking, grappling, wrestling and everything has improved.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you talk about making the move to American Top Team and why? I remember you saying a while back that you were planning on doing all your training for this title fight in France.
Karl Amoussou: Well I was supposed to go and train at ATT for three weeks to supplement my training, but after three days, I called back home and told them, "I really think I have to stay." It's way more professional and it wasn't easy but they told me to stay because I was so focused and everything was going to well at American Top Team.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Good to hear. Let's talk about your upcoming fight against Askren. During the conference call last week, he mentioned he didn't think you'd have the gas tank to last even five minutes. What do you have to say about him not respecting your conditioning?
Karl Amoussou: You know, I don't think the fight will last five minutes anyways so he shouldn't worry. My last fight was only 56 seconds and I'm pretty sure I can beat Askren in a shorter time than that. He should not be worried about me being done in five minutes because the fight will be over before that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've mentioned that you think you'll be able to exploit his flaws. What flaws do you think Askren has in his game?
Karl Amoussou: He has quite a lot. I know what to do to surprise him. I think I'm a way more well-rounded fighter. I have better striking, submissions and judo.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you think you can only win this fight if it's quick, or do you feel that you can defeat Askren even if it goes all five rounds?
Karl Amoussou: Yeah, of course, of course, of course. He has nothing to beat me. He can wrestle, but he can't finish. I have nothing to be scared of.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've discussed your judo being a good counter to his wrestling. Is there any concern about that now after last week's fight where Rick Hawn's Olympic level judo was overwhelmed by Michael Chandler's wrestling?
Karl Amoussou: Oh no, absolutely no worries about it. I'm obviously going to have to be prepared for him, but I'm not worried.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you won the tournament, you said you were going to bring excitement back to the Bellator welterweight division. How much more exciting do you think the reign of Karl Amoussou would be compared to Ben Askren?
Karl Amoussou: I think it would be significantly more exciting. I'm an exciting fighter. I actually finish fights and I finish them quickly in a very strong way. I think the fans have been hoping for something different. You cannot compare me to a boring fighter ever.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What would it mean for you to be a champion?
Karl Amoussou: Oh, it would mean everything. It's what I've been training for for years now. It would be the perfect final point of all that time I've put in with training.
Karl would like to thank all the fans in France and the US, his wife, his trainer at American Top Team who helped show him around and everyone who has supported him. You can follow him on twitter @KarlAmoussou.