by: Cory Brady
Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate will be making his United Staes debut on Friday night when he faces off with Jaime Fletcher at ShoXC live on Showtime. Diabate is no stranger to the big show. This native of Paris, France is a Pride FC, Cage Rage and DEEP veteran that has impressed many MMA insiders as being one of the best strikers in the game today. Taking some time off to develop a better rounded skill set, Diabate looks to showcase a new and improved version of The Snake on Friday and hopes to prove that he belongs with the best fighters that the 205 pound division has to offer. PRO MMA was able to catch up with Diabate recently to talk with him about his upcoming fight and what the future hold for The Snake.
PRO MMA: So you’re fighting this Friday night live on Showtime’s ShoXC series. What do you know about your opponent, Jamie Fletcher, and how do you feel you guys match up?
Cyrille: I’ve seen a couple of his fights. He’s a decent kickboxer and he’s got some grappling as well. I think I’m more experienced than him in kickboxing and grappling so I think that’s going to make the difference.
PRO MMA: Will you be looking to stand and bang with Fletcher or do you have a preference of where this fight ends up?
Cyrille: You know people see me as a one dimensional kickboxer so if it goes to the ground or I get a takedown I feel I can go for the submission or ground and pound him. I’ll do whatever, I’m not focused on one kind of win. If I can knock him out good, if I can submit him I’ll go for whatever.
PRO MMA: Who have you been training with for this fight?
Cyrille: After coming back from Team Quest in March I’ve just been training with my team in Paris, The Snake Team. I’ve got a couple of really talented fighters out there and even though they’re not really well known in the U.S. we’ve been making a name for ourselves in Europe so we have decent stuff over there.
PRO MMA: This will be the first time a lot of American fans have had the chance to see you in action, how important to you is it to put on a good performance on Friday night?
Cyrille: I’ve fought in Japan quite a few times, this is going to be my first mma bout in the U.S. You know mma is getting really big here so it’s very important to me to have a good showing and to show people an entertaining style. So that’s going to be my main objective, to win, but give people an entertaining fight.
PRO MMA: This will mark the first time you have fought in over a year, do you anticipate any ring rust going into this fight or is that not something that really concerns you?
Cyrille: I’ve had fights where there were long periods of time off in my career. Where I had a year or two off and I’ve always done well on my comeback fight. So I don’t think I’ll suffer from ring rust, I don’t think so.
PRO MMA: Many consider you one of the best pure strikers in mma, how has your ground game been coming along?
Cyrille: I’ve shown a couple of times that I can win by submission. People think of me as a pure kickboxer that has weaknesses in all different areas apart from kickboxing but that’s one of my objectives today, to show that I’m not one dimensional. I can wrestle and I can grapple as well so I’m looking to mix it up more in my future fights, that’s for sure.
PRO MMA: How many fights do you have on your EliteXC contract?
Cyrille: I have three fights and if I do well in those three fights I have three more. So three for now.
PRO MMA: Is fighting on CBS something that may be in your future?
Cyrille: Exactly, that’s my plan. This first fight on ShoXC is to get the public to know me better. If I have a good showing and I’m entertaining on Friday night I’ll go on to EliteXC and why not CBS.
PRO MMA: Who do you consider some of the top fighters in the world at 205?
Cyrille: Obviously Rampage, Forrest, you know all the top guys in the UFC right now are probably at the top of the pack. I think Shogun if he comes back from his injury and he’s motivated I think he could come back to the top as well. Sokodjou is an awesome fighter. There’s a couple of guys out there that could probably beat any one of the top five so it’s very difficult to choose a top fighter at 205 because it’s such a talented division. Any top ten guy could beat any other top ten guy so it’s very hard to say who’s the best.
PRO MMA: Which mixed martial artist impresses you the most with their striking abilities?
Cyrille: Definitely Anderson Silva. He’s precise, he doesn’t get hit when he’s standing. He’s very mobile and a very clever guy. Lyoto Machida as well. He’s a very tricky fighter, very nimble, very agile and a great counter puncher. So those two guys are probably the best strikers because they have the brains and they have the skills and they put them together very well.
PRO MMA: Who are some of the guys you may want to face in the future?
Cyrille: I’m just happy to be back in the cage fighting and looking forward to the future. I’ve been out a year and a half just improving on my skill set. I’m hoping to show people the new Snake, you know, the new skills. So I’m looking forward to my future fights. I don’t really have a specific opponent I want to face, I just want to show people who I am.
PRO MMA: So whoever they put in your way you’re going to take care of?
Cyrille: Yeah , exactly. If I prove myself and they put the top 205’ers in front of me, that’s the plan. I’m going to show that I belong with the best.
PRO MMA: So we can look forward to seeing the new and improved Cyrille Diabate on Friday night?
PRO MMA: Hey Cyril, thanks so much for your time, we really appreciate it. Are there any sponsors you’d like to thank before I let you go?
Cyrille: I’d like to thank MMA AGENTS, my manager Ken Pavia and all the guys from The Snake Team that helped me out with my training.
LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE AUDIO INTERVIEW BELOW