Cage Rage veteran Xavier Foupa-Pokam, a.k.a. “Professor X,” made his UFC debut against Denis Kang at UFC 97. Unfortunately for Xavier, the first-time UFC jitters got the better of him and he lost the decision.
Not one to rest on his laurels, and ready to jump right back in there a month later to fill in for the injured James Irvin, Professor X was asked by the company to face Drew McFedries at UFC 98. It was his second chance to show UFC fans what he was made of.
This time the fight did not go to decision. McFedries caught the Professor with a punch early on, he was able to capitalize on it with a flurry, which in turn caused the ref to stop the fight at the 0:37 mark of the opening round. Subsequently, after two fights and one month, “Professor X” was released from the UFC.
PRO MMA (promma.info) had the privilege of speaking to Xavier this week about his fight with McFedries, his release from the company, and where he goes from here.
The Professor explained what happened at UFC 98, “What happened was simple. I just made one mistake, and I paid for it… cash. I knew that McFedries was going to rush to me and that I only needed to step to the side before doing everything else and there would be no way for him to beat me. I didn’t, or not properly. So he caught me.”
Under the bright lights in front of thousands of live fans and millions more watching on pay-per-view, Xavier had experienced the “first-time Octagon jitters” in his UFC 97 debut against Denis Kang. That was not the case against McFedries, “When entering this fight I was feeling very good, very relax as I often feel before making a good performance. Me and all my corner were very confident and relax. What happened in that last fight had nothing to do with this. I just did the worst job I ever did.”
When a professional mixed martial artist has spent years fighting in smaller shows all over the world, they often dream of one day fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the sport’s premiere organization.
Receiving a contract to fight in the UFC is often the culmination of years of hard work and paying your dues. Imagine what it must feel like to finally get there, lose your first two fights back-to-back in just over a month, and then you are cut. That has to be hard for anyone.
Xavier explained how he felt after losing to McFedries, “After that fight, I couldn’t believe it happened until the day after. I was very disappointed and very surprised at the same time. I also had the feeling that I had disappoint a lot of fans that had great hope for me in the UFC. And a sour taste in my mouth; the feeling that I have missed an important step on my way to the success. And collapsed in the stairs.”
For a normal person, to experience the great high of fighting in the UFC and then to lose it so quickly could be devastating. Then again, normal people never make it there in the first place. “I’m not the kind of guy that sits down and cry for hours. To me, the only way to succeed is work. And my team’s motto is “Warrior 4 Life,” said Xavier.
Xavier Foupa-Pokam has been fighting professionally since 2002 and holds a record of 20-11-2. He was on a seven fight win streak when he came into the UFC. He is determined to keep his eye on the big picture. At only 27-years-old, the last chapter of the Professor’s book is far from complete.
He spoke about the inevitable waves of a fighter’s career, “I rapidly said to myself that this is just the kind of event that can happen in a career and I’ve got to go through it. And make your best so that it happens the most rarely as possible.”
Resistance training is great for the muscles. It is the same with life, “When you manage to get up after this kind of event, it obviously makes you stronger. I know I’ll manage to climb back these stairs, much higher, then I’ll stay up there. Now, I just need to continue working on it and improve what didn’t work.”
Xavier said he would like to pick up a few wins and get back to the UFC. When asked if he liked fighting here in the U.S. he responded, “I like fighting in the U.S. The U.S. MMA public is really passionate and has a great respect for fighters.”
He has more fans in the U.S. than he realized, “I was very surprised when I had Americans supporters coming to me in a very fair-play attitude and telling me that they liked my last fight and they were fans of my style, even if I was about to fight of of their country fellows.”
PRO MMA (promma.info) was curious if Xavier liked America enough to maybe one day move here. “I don’t think so,” he said. “My team is French and based in Paris. I like my team. We are a whole family. I like my trainer, my mates and I’m a loyal man. But if one day the Snake Team moves to U.S., who knows? Future is future and I think that nothing is written.”
Whether it is in the U.S., France, the U.k., or the North Pole, Xavier just wants to fight. He has the type of personality and fan-pleasing style that will make him a favorite no matter where he goes. As for what the rest of 2009 holds for Xavier Foupa-Pokam he said there are quite a few things still under negotiation.
“Professor X” Xavier Foupa-Pokam would like to thank the following:
-My trainer Cyrille Diabaté and all my team, the Snake Team for helping me, supporting me and sharing all this moments with me, good or bad. This surprise birthday party was awesome!
-I have a special thought for Gregory “Blade” Babene and Mamour “Mamourinho” Fall that should make their US debut soon.
-I also want to thank Ken Pavia and all his MMA Agents team for their tremendous work. These guys are really good.
-I want to thank Jimmy Riah and Olivier Ancely (Private Coach centers) our two physical conditioners for their good job, their huge knowledge about conditioning and their support.
-I want to thank the Sankuno from Paris for all their help for preparing our fighters with Jiu-jitsu.