Gokhan Saki is waiting on his working VISA to be accepted before moving to Miami to work with Ilir Latifi coach Selman Berisha, but he has already begun training for his upcoming bout with Khalil Rountree in his native Turkey.
After two and half years on the sidelines, kickboxing legend Saki returned to action in dramatic fashion in Japan at UFC Fight Night 117 when he dispatched Brazilian Henrique da Silva in the first round of their light heavyweight bout.
Following the “Performance of the Night” victory in his UFC debut, the former K-1 and Glory champion expressed that he wanted to compete again before the end of the year. The UFC duly obliged and booked him against knockout artist Rountree at UFC 219 on Dec. 30.
Although Rountree is known for his knockout power, Saki believes his striking is on a completely different level to the Ultimate Fighter 23 finalist.
“Khalil is a hard worker, I think. He’s a nice fighter, but with me, I’m sure he’s going to try and wrestle,” Saki told MMA Fighting.
“I think a lot of wrestling coaches are going to thank me because they can make big money now. Everybody will want private wrestling lessons now because they don’t want to fight me standing up.
“His standup is nice. If you don’t know anything about striking his fighting style looks sick, but I’ve fought everybody. In my eyes, he tries to strike – I am a striker.
“It’s like I’m Ronaldo and he just plays football in the park with his friends.”
Saki believes that he has made improvements in all aspects of MMA to the point that he will be able to dictate where the action takes place against Rountree.
“My wrestling is getting sick. I’m really happy with my progress because I feel I understand the game. My jiu-jitsu is coming on very well too. My striking technique is even improving and I’ve been going in with some big guys,” he said.
“I will make him fight the way I want him to fight. This is my next step. I will make them all fight on my terms.”
Although his viral knockout of Da Silva was enough to satisfy MMA fans, “The Turkish Tyson” claimed that he barely did any striking in the lead up to his promotional debut.
Having implemented striking back into his training schedule, Saki has promised to show a “different level” at UFC 219.
“What you saw in Japan, my kickboxing was maybe 35 percent. I didn’t train much kickboxing ahead of the fight because I had to learn so many different things in such a short time. There was too much to do.
“Now, I understand the game more and the way I need to train. Now I’m making time for everything and in a smart way.
“I train in short sessions and I learn everything that I need to know. I’ve given a lot of attention to my kickboxing also and I’m training with a good stand up trainer also.
“I’m going to show a different level. People don’t want to see everything in one day. I’m going to show them step-by-step who Saki is.”