“A fight is a fight. It can end in 5 rounds or it can end in 5 seconds.”
Interview by: Eric Hostetter
Ola Siyanbola came to Sam Hoger’s Gym about 3 years ago with a strong desire to learn. With a background in martial arts, learning new disciplines like jui-jitsu and wrestling has been much easier for Ola. That background has also helped him progress much faster than most new students of the game. The proof is not just in his perfect 3-0 record, but also in the dynamic fashion in which he has won those fights. Hoger has compared Ola to a hybrid between GSP and Anderson Silva; no doubt big those are big shoes to fill. With his first ever title fight coming up on September 18, 2010 at Lonestar Beatdown, Ola looks take the next step in his MMA career.
Ola: I started martial art, kung fu, when I was 8. I was really shy back then, but fortunately my dad’s friend was a Wing Chun master and he would gather up us boys on the streets in Lagos, Nigeria on Saturday mornings and train. I did that until I was 21 years old and went to boarding school. When I came here for school, I would train but the culture was different than what is was back in Nigeria. When I was about to graduate, I was looking at myself and said, “Man, I need to get back into shape!” and I am not one of those type of guys that goes to the gym to just pump iron. I like punching and kicking, and I didn’t want to get into boxing. If you are punching and kicking all of your life, you don’t want to hold yourself back from what you know. So I looked up online and I came across Sam Hoger’s Gym, and I remember him from The Ultimate Fighter Show. I thought to myself, “This is a probably a good place to work out at.”, and I have been here ever since.
TCD.net: Did you play/participate in any other sports before getting into MMA?
Ola: I’ve played soccer all of my life, even bare footed in the street when I was younger. I ran a little bit in high school. Nothing really major, but that is about it.
TCD.net: Would you say that soccer has helped you a little bit in your footwork?
Ola: No, not as much as my kung fu has. To me when I was a kid, kung fu was more like a dance, and has really contributed to me to have very good balance in my striking, whether it is with my legs or my hands. Anyone can throw a punch or a kick, but to throw it with balance and have effective movement with it is where my kung fu background is coming into play.
However, soccer did do wonders for my gas tank. At the end of a soccer match you probably run anywhere between 8 km to 10 km by the end of it. That is an amazing amount of cardio to be able to make it through a match and still be able to stand.
TCD.net: What do you think sets you apart from the other fighters in your weight class?
Ola: Right now, I do not think that there is anything that sets me apart from anyone else. But I do think my back ground in kung fu plays a big part in my game. Training with the likes of “Machine Gun” Young, Bad Man Barringer, Ryan Josey, and of course Sam Hoger have tremendously helped me progress my fighting and will only make me better.
TCD.net: American Football or Fútbol? Which of the two sports do you prefer (if you have a preference)?
Ola: Not even close, I prefer soccer more than football. I respect football a bunch, but I cannot anger the fútbol gods and pick football over the beautiful game.
TCD.net: What is your favorite club?
Ola: I am a BIG Arsenal fan.
TCD.net: I knew there was a reason why I liked you! Go Gunners!
TCD.net: Fight of the Night or Submission of the Night?
Ola: That’s a funny question, cause that is a bit hard. That means I took a whole lot of beating, but it also means that I gave a beating too. But that’s the mentality of a fighter; go in there and defeat your opponent.
There is something special about getting a submission, and to tack on Submission of the Night honors means that it was extra ordinarily special. I am going to go with Submission of the night.
TCD.net: OK. Submission of the Night or Knockout of the Night?
Ola: That’s easy, Knockout of the Night. No question. It is not like I go for it, but when you are in martial arts, and mixed martial arts, you want to finish the fight definitively.
TCD.net: Who are your favorite fighters? It can be local fighters or guys up on the big stage.
Ola: I always tell my coaches if I could have the wrestling of GSP, the striking of Anderson Silva, the jujitsu of B.J. Penn, and the illusion of Lyoto Machida… I would be a superstar!
TCD.net: HAHA! I think everyone wants to have all of those skill sets!
Ola: No doubt! Honestly though, when you look at those guys, and then you look at what Frankie Edgar did to B.J. Penn, you have to also respect what he has been able to accomplish in both of his matches against B.J.
TCD.net: Tell us about your fight on September 18th against Michael Lytle of AXS?
Ola: This is a title fight. It will be 5 rounds, and I am looking forward to it. I have been preparing for it and it is going to be a good fight. I do not want to give up too much up, but it is going to be a real good fight.
TCD.net: Do you feel an extra pressure coming into this fight to maintain your undefeated record?
Ola: You know the funny thing is that every fight has pressure. What has happened in the past was there but now it is gone, and also you don’t have to worry about the future because you are not there yet. It is all about what you do here and now.
Is it extra pressure because it is a title fight? No, a fight is a fight. It can end in 5 rounds or it can end in 5 seconds. The thing is that you don’t want to let the people that you have worked with, such as coaches and teammates, down. That is where a little pressure comes in. You want to go all out and be all you can be for that night
TCD.net: Is there anyone you would like to thank or give a shout out to?
Ola: I first of all want to thank God, I want to thank him for everything. My coach Sam Hoger, without him there would be no MMA for me. My coach Ali who I have been working on my striking with. My teammates that have been working out with me, it is my time now to return the favor back to them by going out there and getting the win. Chico and Bad Man helping me work on my dirty boxing. I still don’t know what is so dirty about it! Forester , Jason and all of my teammates that I have not mentioned. I also want to thank Legacy, Mick, and also all of Houston. Thank you all.
TCD.net: Thank you for your time. Best of luck to you in your fight.
Ola: Thank you for the interview.