Josh Sampo (11-2) is one of the newest and most highly hyped additions to the UFC’s bantamweight division. Sampo made his debut on the Ultimate fighter 18 finale, submitting Ryan Benoit in a back and forth battle that received fight of the night.
Sampo was pleased with his performance, but admitted that the experience was emotionally draining. “It was kind of nerve wrecking,” said Sampo. “I got the call on super short notice and it was a whirlwind of emotions, but I had to take my chance and do the best with what I had.”
The bantamweight’s road to the UFC wasn’t easy. The Lindenwood graduate juggles a fulltime teaching job with his fighting career. ““It’s difficult it takes a little bit of scheduling. It keeps me honest though, I don’t have any time to mess around,” Sampo said. Sampo believes his work ethic paved the way to success. Being a full time fighter and a full time teacher has made hard work a necessity for the Missouri based fighter. Getting the call from the UFC made it all worth it.
“I was just going about my normal life, trying to do as much as I could and train as much as I could. I was in the gym multiple times a day. Once I got the call it put everything in a reality check. I am hoping to make the best of the opportunity,” Sampo said. “The bigger risk you take the bigger the reward. If you know you can put in the time and make the sacrifice. Take a few risks and train hard, and the rest will come.”
On most ranking websites Sampo, along with his training partner, Alptekin Ozkilic (9-1), rest around the top 10-12 in the bantamweight division. In spite of the publicity surrounding them Sampo feels that he is at the bottom of the totem pole. “Alp” is another bantamweight that has rocketed on to the scene.
The two feed off of each other and have proven that iron sharpens iron. “Alp is a hard-nosed wrestler, and has been an extremely valuable asset and an extremely good friend,” said Sampo. “He has helped push me to a different level. I hope that I am the same thing for him. He has helped me grow so much, he helps me out with my wrestling and on other things I need to work on. He pushed me to be a better athlete. I can contribute a lot of my success to him.”
Sampo is currently set to face off with former Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky (17-4), at UFC 170 in Las Vegas Nevada. Like Sampo Makovsky made a successful UFC debut, defeating Scott Jorgenson via unanimous decision at UFC on Fox 9. Sampo is looking forward to testing his skills against the fellow bantamweight. “He is a great fighter with a great style,” said Sampo. “I would love to fight him.”