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Guido Cannetti opens up about return to MMA at UFC St. Louis, future in the sport

UFC 190 Weigh-in Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Guido Cannetti will be resuming his MMA career Sunday night.

The Argentinian bantamweight fighter returns to the UFC’s Octagon after a two-year lay off that included a 10-month suspension by USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping policy partner. Cannetti takes on South Korea’s Kyung Ho Kang on the FOX Sports 1 preliminary card of UFC St. Louis.

Cannetti’s return to the UFC comes during a tumultuous in his life.

The 38-year-old was suspended by USADA in October 2016 just days away from his rematch with Marco Beltran at The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 3 Finale. The Argentine didn’t get the two-year suspension that would’ve normally been given for his type of case. Instead, Cannetti was only suspended for 10 months, as he was able to prove to USADA that he didn’t knowingly take banned substances, and that it was a tainted supplement that caused a positive drug test.

The oddyssey to prove his innocence to USADA left the Buenos Aires resident in a tough financial situation, as he was not able collect a paycheck against Beltran or work as a fighter after that. Cannetti was also left in a legal battle with the supplement company whose product led to his test failure.

Now on the verge of resuming his MMA career, Cannetti is focused on fighting and leaving that whole ordeal behind him.

“Right now, I gave that to a lawyer and I’m only focusing on fighting,” Cannetti told MMA Fighting. “I’m more focused on returning than I am on the past. I want to come back and forget all the past so I don’t have any anger. I already processed it and I’m ready to fight again. I’ll let the lawyer take care of all the legal part and I’ll focus on my thing.”

In recent fights, Cannetti has made it custom to do a big part of his training camp with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif. “Ninja” did not break that new tradition for this fight with Kang. Cannetti was able to travel from Buenos Aires to Sacramento and train for most of the month of December with TAM, despite his financial situation.

“I asked friends of mine, and people who always supported me, if they could lend me a hand because I wanted to train,” Cannetti explained. “And the truth is that everyone told me, ‘Guido, I’ll lend you a hand,’ and some even without me asking. So with the help of several people, I was able to go (to Team Alpha Male), which is what I wanted. I wanted to train well and with people that pushed me, not people I already know and I’m comfortable training with.

“I trained with the best of the world and that’s what I needed for this fight, to test myself against the best. So yeah, I was able to make it happen thanks to the people that always helped me in my career and to the people that I asked for help and without a doubt they gave it to me. For this fight I’ve felt the most support I’ve ever felt in any of my other fights in my career.”

Approaching 40 and having been out of the cage for more than two years, some might be skeptical about Cannetti’s success in his return to MMA. However, “Ninja” says he’s never stopped training and believes the suspension, although an overall negative experience, did have some positive effects.

“I never stopped training at a good rhythm, I never stopped training,” Cannetti said. “I almost kept training at the same rhythm, maybe a little less than I would for a fight because I can’t train like that for too long or then I would be suffering many injuries and I’d be overtraining. But yeah, I kept training like always. I think I only stopped for one week to let my body heal. But I was always trying to improve, getting my conditioning up, and working on becoming faster and stronger.

“In the preparation for this fight, I realized that I was doing things in faster time, and that I was more powerful than before. Now I have more to give than I did in my last fights.”

Cannetti’s UFC St. Louis opponent will also be coming off a two-year layoff Sunday night. Kang, a former Road FC champion who’s on a two-fight win streak in the UFC, had to do his mandatory military service in his home country of South Korea. The Argentine doesn’t see Kang being affected by the time off, and expects him to be a formidable challenge.

“I believe that the people from that country, South Korea, fight with a lot of heart, so I don’t think he’ll be influenced by the layoff,” Cannetti said.

“And I like that I’m being matched up against a quality opponent because in the past, when they’ve matched me up against opponents that are not good or they didn’t motivate me to train at my fullest, the truth is that sometimes I would lose. But whenever I faced the toughest challenges of my life, I would win. So yeah, I prefer to be fighting good opponents.”

Now back in action, Cannetti has some high expectations for the next 12 months. Cannetti’s New Year’s resolutions are to fight often, get his name more established in the company and hopefully headline an event in his home country, which has been rumored for late 2018.

“I hope to fight at least three times to get back some of the time I lost, not get injured, and be able to fight continuosly so I can climb fast because I also don’t think I have many years left in my career,” Cannetti said regarding his 2018 goals.

“I feel great, but I already have 38 years of age and you have to be real. I feel better than ever, but I don’t know how many more years I’m going to be able to maintain the engergy and vitality that I have today. So I’m going to do as many fights as I can, and I’m going to ask for fights and go as high as possible, so that in December, when the UFC comes to my country, I’ll be able to have a bigger and more established name so that I can fight in the main event and against a high-level fighter. I want to demonstrate that Argentina can get to the highest level, just how we’ve been doing it throughout history in all sports.”

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