PROVIDENCE, R.I. (April 16th, 2014) — Good or bad, Andre Soukhamthath doesn’t care what you think.
You won’t find him online much these days reading what other people have to say about who he fights, how he fights, or what they think about his latest opponent.
“It’s not important,” he said. “I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone. I just want to win.”
The well-mannered bantamweight from Woonsocket, R.I., with the million-dollar smile hasn’t suddenly turned heel following his loss to Kin Moy in January, but with the pressure to respond to critics no longer clouding his judgment, Soukhamthath (7-2, 4 KOs) will be all business when he returns to the cage Friday, April 25th, 2014 against Josh Killion (10-4) of Ohio on the undercard of “CES MMA XXIII” at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I.
“There’s no pressure anymore,” said Soukhamthath, whose loss to Moy snapped a seven-fight win streak.
“I finally lost. People wanted to see me get tested. Well, I got tested. I know where I stand now. I know where I need to be and what I need to do to make it to that next level, and that’s focus on one fight at a time and fight smarter.”
The first step toward fighting smarter is to learn to block out all of the outside influences, whether it’s criticism from the press, social media chatter or unexpected adversity.
Soukhamthath dealt with it all leading up to the fight against Moy.
It was his first scheduled fight since moving south to begin training with the Blackzillians. In addition to the commute from Florida to Rhode Island during fight week, Soukhamthath also dealt with the death of his uncle, who passed away that weekend, a hardship any fighter would have difficulty trying to block out, let alone one with so much already on his plate.
No excuses, Soukhamthath said.
“I had a lot going on, but I usually separate things pretty well,” he said. “Mentally, I was drained, but I still went out there and fought, so I don’t have anyone to blame but myself.”
Soukhamthath’s biggest problem was paying attention to the criticism online, the questions about his record, who he had faced in the past, and whether or not he could compete with Moy, an undefeated prospect from nearby Cambridge, Mass.
“It really aggravated me,” Soukhamthath said. “I really wanted to go out there and put an exclamation point on my performance, and that’s what I tried to do. I wore myself out. That’s the only reason I lost the fight. I really beat myself. I don’t think Kin beat me at all. I thought I won the first and second round. His back was on the mat the entire time, but it is what it is. Life goes on.
“I’m sure everyone will agree I always come to fight,” he continued. “I don’t go there to dance around, or lay and pray, or win on points. It might not always be the smartest thing, but at the end of the day it’s what I do, and I’m not going to stop doing that.
“I won’t fight emotionally anymore. I’ll just fight smarter.”
Soukhamthath has grown tired of critics saying he picks his fights — “when my promoter calls me for a fight, I always say yes if I’m ready,” he said — which might explain why he’s facing another tough test next Friday against Killion, a 5-foot-3, 23-year-old vet with eight wins by submission and victories in seven of his last eight fights.
Killion’s cut from the same cloth, a throwback fighter who worries less about what his opponent brings to the table and focuses more on fighting his kind of fight once the bell rings.
“I don’t do a lot of homework on my opponent,” Killion said. “I just do my thing, and what happens, happens. It’s going down once we’re in that cage.”
Soukhmathath recently beat one of Killion’s training partners, Corey Simmons, in December, but Killion preferred to keep his training to himself rather than seek advice from Simmons.
“I never ask those guys, ‘How did he fight?’ or anything like that. I really don’t even like watching videos,” Killion said. “I’m not going in there with a game plan thinking he’s going to fight this way or that way. I’m not going to fight like that. I’m a go-getter, so let’s get it.”
Despite having won eight of his 10 fights by submission with no knockouts on his record, Killion surprisingly prefers to stand and trade blows with his opponent.
“I like to hit. They always tell me they’re going to hit with me, but then it goes the other way,” he said. “That’s how it’s gone my whole career. Once they trade with me, they want to take me to the ground, but I’m an animal down there, too, so it doesn’t matter to me. That’s why they call it mixed martial arts.
“I’m the little guy, but I’m here to hit. I don’t think [Soukhamthath] has ever come across anyone like me. I have a big heart. I hope he has heart, too.”
Added Soukhamthath: “I’m taking this fight on somewhat short notice, but I never really stopped training after the last fight. I took a week off and got right back in the gym. The training has been great. I finally feel like part of the team. We’re settled in. That’s why we moved here. I want to do things the way they do things here. That’s the best way to do it.”
“CES MMA XXIII” will also feature the return of reigning featherweight champion Rob Font and hard-hitting heavyweight Josh Diekmann.
Tickets are on sale now at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesmma.com or www.twinriver.com or by phone at 401-724-2253/2254. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Coming off an impressive win in January, Font (9-1, 2 KOs) will return to face Tristan Johnson (8-4, 3 KOs) of Nova Scotia, Canada, in the main event. The 30-year-old Johnson has won three of his last five fights, including a split-decision victory over Bellator vet Will Romero in 2012, while Font has won his last eight.
Diekmann (14-5, 10 KOs), a Groton, Conn., native, returns to Twin River with wins in two of his last three fights. Following back-to-back first-round knockout wins in September and November, Diekmann’s scheduled three-round bout at Bellator 110 against Manny Lara ended in a no contest due to an accidental eye poke. On April 25th, Diekmann will face Keith “Bad News” Bell (5-3-1, 3 KOs) of Newport News, Va. Bell has won three out of four since 2013 and appeared on the undercard of Bellator 109 in Pennsylvania.
“CES MMA XXIII” also features the return of fan-favorites Tateki Matsuda and Eric Spicely. Matsuda (8-5, 4 KOs), the Boston bantamweight who’s fought everywhere from Maine to Tokyo since his last appearance with CES in 2010, will battle the unbeaten Matt Doherty (3-0, 2 KOs) of Salem, Mass., in what figures to be one of the most intriguing intrastate matchups on the card. Matsuda has lost his last two while Doherty is coming off a submission win over Shaun Marmas in January.
Spicely (3-0) will put his unbeaten record on the line against 37-fight veteran Nuri Shakir (17-20, 8 KOs) of Nashua, N.H., in a three-round welterweight bout. Providence’s Spicely last fought in December with a first-round knockout win over Tyler Rose. The 35-year-old Shakir owns wins over UFC vets Tom Egan and Nick Serra.
Also on the undercard, Pawtucket, R.I., welterweight Abe Pitrowski (5-2, 1 KO) will face Samuel Almeida (2-0) of Framingham, Mass.; lightweight Bobby Flynn (4-1, 1 KO) of Mashpee, Mass., will battle Providence’s Tundee Odumuso (2-2); and featherweight Pete Rogers Jr. (0-1) of Baltic, Conn., will face Manny Torres (2-2) of Hartford, Conn. Two-time Bellator vet Rico DiSciullo (1-0) of Peabody, Mass., will face Jordan Espinosa (3-3) of Findlay, Ohio in a three-round bantamweight bout, and East Providence, R.I., heavyweight Eric Bedard (6-4, 4 KOs) will battle Matthew Thompson (18-9, 7 KOs) of Austin, Tex.