With 16 wins and one contentious defeat, Marlon Sandro was on fire at the last installment of Sengoku, in Japan, with his knockout of Tomonari Kanomata coming just 9 seconds into the match (see video below). While still in the ring, he was challenged by current champion Masanori Kanehara, in a fight that should take place June 20. In a conversation with GRACIEMAG.com, the Jiu-Jitsu black belt spoke of his burgeoning quality as a knockout-artist, his next challenge and his teammate Jose Aldo’s upcoming title defense against Urijah Faber. Check it out:
You come from a Jiu-Jitsu background, you’re a black belt, yet you surprise everyone with knockouts. How do you explain that?
Often I try to do the opposite of what my opponent’s game is. If the guy is good on the ground, we fight standing; or if he wants to stand and trade, I take him down. But regardless, I’ve been doing a lot of standup training. Like I told you before, I don’t ever want to leave the fight in the judges’ hands (due to the only blemish on his 17-fight record). So whatever I have to do to get it over with quick, I do. Giovanni Diniz helped me with my standup and Rafael has been helping me a lot, too. We work on timing a lot to become more aware in the stand-up department.
Is your standup now better than your Jiu-Jitsu? Would you rather fight standing than on the ground?
Jiu-Jitsu will always be my main weapon, but these days I like fighting on my feet a lot. Like I said, it all depends on the fight. If I fight a striker who doesn’t know much on the ground, I’ll take him down for sure. If I’m not doing well standing, let’s go to the ground. It’s all about training a lot to increase my array of options, to know how to fight standing, takedown and fight on the ground.
What are your thoughts on your next challenge, against Masanori Kanehara, for the belt?
I was supposed to have fought Kanehara this fight and I didn’t understand why, after my win, they showed Hatsu Hioki on the screen. But, after that, Kanehara himself came up and challenged me in the ring. I think he’s a well-rounded fighter, with good standup and ground skills, is very flexible. At the end of last year, he fought Kid Yamamoto and managed two knockdowns, so it’ll be a good, tough fight. If you want to be among the best, you have to face the best. He’s the champion and I’m going to train a lot. I’m already familiar with his game and I’ll train to fight him standing. I don’t believe he’ll want to strike with me and I’ll be ready for anything.
Did Sengoku change its name?
It changed. Truth is that they grew and now it’s called Sengoku Raiden Championships, as a tribute to one of the greatest sumo wrestlers of all times.
To finish, what do you expect in the bout between your teammate Jose Aldo and Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight belt?
Faber is a very unpredictable guy and is dangerous for it. There’s no way to know what he’s going to do. But Jose Aldo will win. Faber won’t make it past the second round. It’ll be a tough and dangerous fight and we’re training for all five rounds, but I believe Junior will get the knockout in the second round.
Check out Marlon Sandro’s latest knockout at Sengoku: