EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Cage Warriors Welterweight champion Karl Amoussou
The hard-hitting newly crowned Welterweight champion, Karl Amoussou sat down with us for an interview:
Fighting out of France though representing Germany, Karl Amoussou recently ascended to the top of the Cage Warriors mountain with a stunning TKO to claim the Welterweight title in February at the Cage Warriors 80 event in London. In front of a packed out o2 Indigo, surrounded by fans and his family – Karl reached a new summit in his career. Having ventured through promotions including Bellator and StrikeForce, Karl appears to be on the cusp of being called by the UFC. With seven finishes in his last seven bouts, it’s hard to ignore his claim to the big time now. Prior to the interview Karl stated:
“Where I am today, I owe it to my coach, Fernand Lopez who is an amazing coach, strategist and the person who enabled me to reach the level I am today. He believed in me when I needed it and this journey wouldn’t have been the same without him and my team at MMA Factory. My wife and my baby, Alizee are huge parts in my victories, we are a team.”
We have two options, defending the belt or the other option is I may sign with the UFC. But I’m staying ready, we should know soon. I’ve done what I need to do to deserve the call, I’m happy with Cage Warriors. whoever they put in front of me I will beat them. Though when you have Thiago Alves behind you in the rankings then you know something is up. If I signed for the UFC, I would fight at Welterweight, I am currently doing great with my diet and my weight cuts. I would take any fights; I would love to fight Emil Meek. We’re both finishers but I’m better on the ground. I think I could fight many guys in the top 15 in the UFC.
Conor is very inspirational, I am reading his coaches book at the moment. I like his mental approach, I like to learn from him and I can learn from guys in my division. If you told me I’ll be fighting Conor I’d be like hell yeah. Though I don’t feel it’s that time yet, that’s the kind of bout you have to deserve to prove you’re worthy. I’m going step-by-step.
You were born in France – of course the sport of MMA is banned in France. You’ve stated that you represent Germany as a result, what are your thoughts on France banning the sport and it’s views on the sport?
I refused to let the French ruling on MMA stop me. I am not going to represent France when they disrespect my sport. I would give Germany my world title over France. I admire MMA fighters, what kind of sports are there where men are excellent in many disciplines? It’s why you have fighters at 40+ years old who are still very good whereas in other sports you can only go on for so long. You have to respect the hard work. I don’t care for these kinds of comments and beliefs. I respect not everyone is into the sport but people should respect the hard work and dedication put in by the athletes in this sport.
Your title win at Cage Warriors was your first title in your career, can you talk us through how that felt and what it meant to you in that moment? You seemed extremely focused going into the fight.
The crowd wouldn’t let me go. I was very much focused. I took Matt very seriously; he was great in boxing and on the ground but average in wresting. My family was there. It was a very important for me to win and for them to see me win. It’s my first belt and what an amazing one. I knew how it was going to go, first round TKO on the ground. I saw it happen in my head before it happened. I don’t know any Welterweight in Europe who finishes consistently like me. Seven finishes in seven fights, six in the first round. I’m the best Welterweight in Europe outside of UFC. I’ve proven it. I’m considered to be a grappler, seeing as I went four finishes in a row on the ground. So I changed to standing up and finished people there, now you can’t stand with me either.
You’ve got a very explosive style with knockout power and grappling prowess, similar to UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, how do you feel with that comparison? Also about other fighters like Stephen Thompson?
I think Woodley is more powerful than me, I don’t know if he’s way better than me but he’s more powerful. We have dynamite in our fists, we’re both explosive. His wrestling techniques are different and not like my Judo techniques, I believe both are dangerous. His control of the ground game is better than mine but I’m more efficient with my submissions, but at the end of the day, he is number one right now and you have to respect that. I think Wonderboy would be interesting – his style, his kicks. I’d love to fight him. I think it could happen soon, maybe within in the next year. I’m not looking to get there and be like I made it. It was a dream ten years ago, now it’s concrete. I belong there; I belong in the top 15. I can deal with everyone between in top 15 and top 5.
One trend within the sport that is growing is the money fight, what do you think of those?
Some people complain about money fights, people like Conor McGregor bring money to the sport. If you bring all that you deserve to ask for those fights.
It’s constantly disputed that fighters don’t get paid enough in MMA. What is your opinion on this?
I don’t think fighters are paid enough. I think we’re underpaid, I work 5 days a week, and I still manage to train super hard. I don’t think its normal when I’m ranked in the top ten in Europe but I’m still going to the office every day. The sponsors don’t help that much financially speaking. I have Hartwood – they have amazing suits which they give me. I’m very thankful for them. It’s very important for making impressions to have good presentation and a good image so being smartly dressed helps.
What’s next for you in Cage Warriors? Who do you think is next in line for a shot at your title?
I don’t think there is anyone at my level in Cage Warriors. My main focus is being ready for whatever happens but I’ll take whoever they put in front of me. I don’t see any threat.
On the topic of weight, what are your thoughts on weight cutting?
I don’t like weight cuts. My nutritionist, Celcile Gold’n Coach is very helpful. I don’t have to go to the sauna or anything like that . I don’t like the stress of not being on weight. I like to be in control – if I have a fight in two months I lose about 8 kilos. Why would you put your body through this? It’s bulls**t. Why would you go that far with your weight cut when it is what it is.
Who are your favorite fighters to spectate?
I love watching Conor, Anderson Silva – I love finishers. I like finishers who finish with class. I like Jon Jones, Gunnar Nelson and Maia who are great on the ground. Khabib is incredible but I think he’s making mistakes in his career – what happened in the last fight cannot happen. It’s why I’m against weight cutting huge amounts. It’s not medical issues it’s because you didn’t manage your weight. He’s still a great fighter. Maybe we’ll cross paths if he moves weight. He is on another level with his ground control. He’s better than me at controlling people on the ground but I can submit anyone from any position by exploding. It’d be close.
On the topic of ground game, you have a good history in grappling and specifically Judo, did that help you become better as a fighter in a grappling sense?
People say my ground game is good because of judo, I need to make it clear judo is not a ground game, the ground game in judo is zero, it sucks. People go on about Judo because of Ronda. I did Judo till I was 18 then I started doing grappling. I finished most of my Judo fights on the ground. Judo guys aren’t amazing on the ground they’re good at throwing guys but put them in there with a blue belt in BJJ and they’ll lose. My submission game comes from training in grappling, I don’t specifically train Jiu Jistu nor do I have a belt in it, though, I’d submit most black belts you put in front of me. I was a champion in France in grappling. I’ve competed in three competitions – one was against Jacare and he out pointed me. My level was far from what it is today – Jacare is a monster but he’s good at everything.
A hot topic in the sport right now is the return of Georges St-Pierre who I know you respect, what were your thoughts on his return?
I was surprised by GsP moving weight. I expected his return at Welterweight not Middleweight. He’s incredible. Which GsP will we see? Is it the same or a new one who’s better? Nobody knows besides him. I imagine he could fight Conor after Bisping. I don’t know how the Bisping fight will go. Everyone said Bisping will lose his last few fights but he won. Will be a tough fight for GsP.
Everyone is saying Conor will lose big time against Mayweather which would be more than fair enough but there is something different about Conor. He believes in such a strong manner that he can do it. He often says he even picks the round. I think Mayweather wins 98/100 times but Conor could win those two times out of 100. I like to take risks I’d bet on Conor. Actual boxing and boxing in MMA doesn’t mean anything – there are so many different styles, you’ve got Cody Garbrandt and Conor who are exceptional boxers. But you have Khabib who is good but not on that level.