Is Arnaud Lepont more than just another MMA funnyman? Hear the French fighter make his case...
If there is one thing that Jon Fitch's free agency proves, it is that mixed martial arts (MMA) is as much a form of entertainment as it is a sport. If you fail to entertain, whether inside or outside the cage, then sometimes even winning fights consistently is not enough.
Arnaud Lepont knows this and whatever you think of the French fighter's skillset, his charisma has made him a lot of friends, as well as a couple of enemies, since signing for ONE FC last year. The image which will linger longest in most people's memory is that of "The Game" at the weigh in with a "beating Aoki for dummies" book.
However his fight with Brian Choi was also memorable for all the right reasons as the two went toe-to-toe for the best part of three rounds with Lepont seemingly on his way to a clear cut decision loss when he somehow pulled a submission win out of nowhere.
There is no denying that the Frenchman, who now calls Kuala Lumpur home, has plenty of personality but he showed in the fight with Choi that he also has a lot of heart. He didn't get to display much of either once the fight with Aoki started as he was instantly taken down and submitted.
Lepont is looking to bounce back with a win over Eddie Ng at ONE FC: 'Kings and Champions' and, as he told MMA Mania, he is determined to make up for the disappointment of his last loss.
Your fight with Eddie has been a year in the making, did you always believe this fight would eventually happen?
I have to be honest with you James. He claimed he was hurt, that he had to go through surgery and that he cannot fight me. He has not been into surgery and was still teaching and training at his gym. So in my mind, no disrespect to him, but he was out of my head. You have the opportunity to fight me once, even with my damaged leg but instead I went to a fight with his friend Brian Choi. He asked for this fight, so be it. Seems like it's the fight the fans want to see.
Do you feel you have 'unfinished business' in Singapore after losing so quickly last time?
There is no unfinished business. I have been smashed by Shinya and I am ashamed of it. Especially in front of my Singaporean fans. It's a lesson which cost me a lot of money, emotions and family time. But it was worth the price. I will be stronger in my next fight. I was way too one dimensional before and it was time to face reality. I have to rebuild myself as a full MMA fighter, not just a boxer-brawler.
A lot of people enjoyed your antics at the weigh in and in the build up to your last fight and you always seem to be enjoying yourself inside the cage. Is fighting fun for you?
Exactly James. You know, through your training camp, you suffer a lot. I fight everyday single day at the gym and I am the hardest worker/trainer that you will ever find around. I want not to be ashamed, whatever will happen in the cage. I want to look into the eyes of my opponent and see that he is ready and that I am ready for him. When i step into the cage I am not scared. That's my reward.
What do you think are Eddie's main skills?
Eddie is a great guy, humble, respectful and hard in training. I think he work a lot his wrestling with Heath for this fight. The matter is that, I am rebuilding myself. I think he will be surprised by our game plan.
What do you think will be your key to victory in this fight?
My heart and my never give up attitude. Soon or later he will break. I will break him.
Do you have any predictions for this fight?
I think it will be a close fight, a tough and bloody one. A knockout or a decision.
Do you have anything special planned for the weigh in or for your ring entrance?
I always have! People and fans don't come just for fights. Modern MMA have to be entertaining! Some people hate my antics and some others expect it, wait for it. You can make fun and pump up the fight when you have shown your talent, when you are on a winning streak. This time i will prepare something, but i will be more humble. I just want to focus a little bit more on my preparation. I don't want to disappoint my fans.
Will many fans be travelling down from Kuala Lumpur to support you?
I hope so and I think so. Kuala Lumpur to Singapore is really close. I have a huge fan base here but i think Eddie will be surprised because I also have also lot of fans in Singapore. Sorry to be honest with him but this fight is not Singapore Vs Malaysia, it's France vs Hong Kong. So I think I will have a good support from people in Singapore. I love to be there. Singapore is a great place to fight. I was there a month ago and I even visited Evolve to show that there is no bad blood. Just sport!
This will be your third fight in a row against an Evolve MMA fighter. Do you think that could be a factor in this fight?
Exactly, and that's why i think Evolve want that fight. They think they see through my style. They have made a big mistake. Eddie is not Shinya....and i am not the same fighter that stepped into the cage against Aoki. I also think that because I am good at pumping the fights they see me as a stepping stone.
You submitted Brian Choi after he said that you definitely wouldn't be able to submit him, do you believe you can submit Eddie too?
Eddie is known to respect game plans better than anybody. He is a great fighter, but i really hope he will take me lightly. I can definitely create the surprise even if people think he will beat me.
In your fight with Brian Choi you appeared exhausted but somehow found a way to win and in the fight with Shinya Aoki you ended up unconscious because you refused to tap. Do you think that this warrior spirit helps you to win fights you might otherwise lose?
Exactly. Some have a great wrestling or amazing striking skills. I am just an average fighter...but i have a never surrender attitude, a win or die trying attitude....if you underestimate that...it can be a long night for you.