There were always hints about just how good Karl Amoussou could be. Here was a guy who fought at 185 pounds, just because he was 185 pounds, a relative novelty in today's era of weight cutting. Here was a guy who succeeded mostly because of raw talent, unable to offer himself to the sport full-time because he already had a full-time job as an undercover agent in his native France.
But at 26, Amoussou has turned himself over to his true love of fighting. Now, he can cut weight because he has the time to do it the right way, and he can focus on training because he's left police work behind. His results over the weekend validated that decision, with Amoussou overpowering Chris Lozano in the Bellator 63 main event.
The fight was so fast, so decisive, that Amoussou didn't get hit with a single strike during his submission victory. He left Lozano bloodied and lying in the middle of the cage, a scene that matched up well with his prediction two days before the fight, when he told reporters, "it's going to be a slaughter."
In victory, Amoussou (14-4-2) showed himself to be a much more thoughtful fighter than his "Psycho" nickname indicates. Prior to the bout, his pre-fight knockout promises angered Lozano to the point that the Cleveland-based fighter confronted him at the weigh-in scale. At that point, Amoussou says he knew the approach had gotten into Lozano's head.
"I like to study my opponents," he said. "When I say study, I don’t mean watching the fights, absolutely not. I almost don’t want to watch the fights. But I like to study the person and he gave me [a lot of] information about his personality, fears or no fears. Let’s say, I just knew it."
It was the type of performance that Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and matchmaker Sam Caplan envisioned when they signed him. It made Rebney think back to the first time he could remember seeing Amoussou, on a highlight video on Youtube a few years ago.
"If you saw it, you got hooked on what the potential would be if he was a full-time fighter," he said.
After stints with M-1, Strikeforce and DREAM, Amoussou had gained a reputation for excitement but occasional inconsistency. The former, he promised to continue, while the latter he believes to be an extinct product of his former life.
For four years, Amoussou was a cop on the undercover beat, mostly chasing down drug-dealers and thieves. With heavy demands on him from his job, he could only offer about four training sessions a week, six hours total. It was a way to indulge in a sport he loved, but it wasn't the best way. From a financial perspective, the decision was difficult to make, but his heart kept pulling him to his fight career, and he eventually gave up the job, deciding to see just how good he can be with proper diet and training.
As it turns out, he can be pretty good. His six-day-a-week, multiple-session workout schedule paid immediate dividends.
"I'm not here to play, guys," he said after winning. "Now, you just saw the next tournament champion, OK? I'm not here to beat the guys. I'm here to destroy them."
Next up for him is the previously little-known David Rickels, who knocked out Jordan Smith in just 22 seconds. Amoussou admitted that he had never seen Rickels fight before Friday night but was impressed with his performance. Because of that, he didn't have anything of substance to offer about the fight, but in some ways, his performance had spoken for him already.
Beyond that, if he wins, he'll have to face either Ben Saunders or Bryan Baker in a fight that will see him at a serious height and reach disadvantage. Amoussou is generously listed at 5-foot-11, though he's probably a few inches shorter. Both Saunders and Baker are 6-foot-3. To that, Amoussou shrugs.
"Once a guy is laying on the floor, there's no reach advantage anymore," he said.
There was some buzz backstage that Amoussou could drop to 155, but given his immediate success as a welterweight, that's not likely to happen anytime soon. For now, the welterweights have him to contend with. Amoussou used to fight crime, now he just fights.
"I'm going to be a real machine, so you can expect big things from me," he said.
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