With a relatively unknown opponent standing in his way, the odds were in Andre Soukhamthath’s favor.
Making his fifth walk to the Octagon at UFC Moncton, Soukhamthath was matched up with Jonathan Martinez, a less experienced opponent who was taking the fight on just under three weeks’ notice. It looked like a mismatch on paper and early on it played out that way.
Soukhamthath connected with a straight right that dropped Martinez minutes into round one and immediately went in for the kill. But the UFC newcomer would not lay down. He recovered and fired back, which led to a three-round battle that saw Soukhamthath throw everything he had at Martinez in an attempt to get the finish.
The end result was a hard-fought unanimous decision win for Soukhamthath, who told MMA Fighting that he couldn’t believe Martinez was able to survive his opening onslaught.
“I’m like, ‘Dude, what the f**k?’ I dropped him and I thought I finished him, he friggin’ grabs me, he’s still alive,” said Soukhamthath. “I’m like, should I roll for the anaconda or not? I’m not gonna do it because I don’t want him on top of me. I drop him again, I hit him with a spinning elbow, I hit him with flying knees, and I drop him again in the first round and he keeps waking up again. That was right towards the end of the bell, so I was like, ‘F**k!’
“After that, we were kind of clinched up and then the bell rang, I kind of whispered to him like, ‘Yo, you bitch!’ I was like, ‘What the f**k, you’re supposed to be out.’ Like, stay down.”
Another opportunity to take Martinez out of the fight occurred in round two as Soukhamthath unloaded a flurry of strikes against the cage, but referee Jerin Valel confusingly broke up the action to warn Soukhamthath that a knee strike landed below the belt (it was the second warning Soukhamthath had received in the fight for that infraction, but this time Valel did not give Martinez a customary five-minute recovery period, instead resetting the action instantly).
Soukhamthath is confident that he would have landed a finishing blow during that sequence were it not for Valel’s intervention.
“That’s when I had him hurt,” said Soukhamthath. “I hit him with a body shot, hit him with a couple of knees and I hit him with something and he was hurt. He was covered up and he didn’t throw one punch and I was just throwing flurries at him and I was about to end it. One of those punches was going to go through and I was going to end it.
“Then all of a sudden I feel the ref stopping us while I’m trying to go for the finish, so that kind of f**ked me up and gave me an adrenaline dump. I was in great shape for this fight, but adrenaline dumps are no joke.”
Though Soukhamthath did find himself on the defensive later in the second round, with Martinez on top of him dropping elbows, he blames it on fatigue as opposed to any referee involvement. Soukhamthath went on to finish strong to take a unanimous decision, and actually exchanged friendly words with Valel afterwards.
Besides, he’s used to having to adapt to less-than-ideal situations at this point. Soukhamthath’s UFC journey has been a rocky one, from his own short-notice debut back at UFC 209, to a bitter split decision loss in Mexico, to a highlight-reel finish of Luke Sanders, and then a recent loss to rising bantamweight star Sean O’Malley that involved plenty of pre-fight trash talk from O’Malley and then just as much post-fight negativity from armchair critics who thought Soukhamthath threw that fight away by failing to capitalize on a late injury suffered by his opponent.
Soukhamthath, who turned 30 just days before UFC Moncton (where he was originally supposed to fight Canadian Gavin Tucker), has heard it all, and he’s taught himself to drown out the kind of noise that he admits distracted him ahead of the O’Malley fight.
“All I care about is my family and my fight, because they go through the highs and lows with me,” said Soukhamthath. “Not these people that some are fake fans, some are real fans, some are haters, there’s always going to be that. And that’s just the stuff that comes with winning, that’s just the stuff that comes with losing, that’s just the stuff that comes with being in the UFC and in my position. I realize what’s important and what’s not and that stuff is really not important. I don’t even pay attention to it.”
The rest of 2018 looks like it will be spent recovering and making up for time that Soukhamthath missed while he was getting back to his roots in his former stomping grounds of Rhode Island. While he was away for seven weeks, it was his wife (and former manager) Jamie who looked after their two kids and kept their Florida home in order.
Soukhamthath is a winner in the UFC again, now it’s time for him to get back to being a family man. And when he gets back into the gym, it will be with a fresh perspective.
“I cleaned up our room, I cleaned up the house, because I haven’t been here for seven weeks and me and my wife we have routines at our house with the kids,” said Soukhamthath. “She’s been doing that all by herself, so I’m just trying to help out as much as I can here first. And then maybe next week I’ll start training again.
“But training to develop. I don’t feel like sparring for another three weeks. I’m not gonna spar, I’m not gonna do anything too hard, I just want to do some jiu-jitsu, hit some pads, hit some bags, and just develop. Develop my game and keep evolving. That’s my goal right now. I don’t have a fight now, so I’m just going to evolve and evolve. If I don’t fight by the end of the year, I wouldn’t be mad.”