As we’ve said all week here at ProMMANow, the entire card at WSOF 9: Carl vs Palhares this Saturday is stacked from top to bottom. Before Steve Carl and Rousimar Palahres go toe-to-toe for the welterweight strap, plenty of exciting battles will have already taken place. One of those bouts features Ozzy Dugulubgov, who is set to face off against Jonathan Nunez in what should be a highly entertaining preliminary war.
ProMMANow got a chance to speak with Ozzy prior to his fight with Nunez and get the scoop on this talented prospect.
Questions from ProMMA’s Kinch in bold.
Answers from Ozzy are italicized.
How has preparation been going for your scrap with Nunez?
“Like always, my training camp has been going well, thank God. I’m going hard and trying to be disciplined, every fight I’m trying to be confident in my actions and my beliefs, whatever happens is in God’s hands.”
Your opponent is an undefeated prospect training out of Syndicate MMA, what can you tell me about this guy?
“I cannot tell you much about him. Every time I get the name of my opponent, I just take a quick look at them to see who I’m fighting and all the other stuff I leave to my coaches. They are the ones studying him, from there they figure out my training regiment.”
Based on what your coaches are telling you, what kind of an opponent are you preparing for and where do they feel his weaknesses are?
“He’s undefeated and that’s good for him, he’s a wrestler so we will be ready. Our primary focus in every fight camp is to be prepared for any fighter and for any style or situation. Our goal is to have more tools when we are on the job. Not that exciting, but it’s simple and works very well.”
Tell me about your background as martial artist and your career so far. How did you get into MMA?
“I’ve been in martial arts since my early childhood, my father put me on this past and he has been coaching me for most of my life. I trained all of my life back home in Russia and then when I came here six years ago, I started learning Western grappling styles like jiujitsu and American wrestling. Then in 2011 I made my pro debut, I came to the United States to fight professionally, like I said, being an athlete has been in my mind for my entire life.”
I’m guessing the grappling style you came from was sambo?
“Yes, and the Russian style of wrestling. My father was a world champion in both arts.”
I’ve always found it interesting how guys who come to the U.S. with that style are able to use it to great effect, mainly because there aren’t many high-level sambo practitioners here. How beneficial has that background been to you throughout your career?
“It gives me great benefit as long as I can adapt it to the fighting styles over here. Just like the differences between jiujitsu and MMA, combat sambo has its advantages and disadvantages. So I just keep that in mind and make the most out of it.”
You currently train under the legendary Renzo Gracie, tell me about working with him and how your time with Master Renzo has elevated your game.
“I’m blessed to have this group of people around me, we have a great team. I train at Renzo’s in the city and an affiliate gym with one of Renzo’s original students Jamal Patterson, we also have great cross-training with Ricardo Almeida’s fighters. These three gyms are producing some amazing athletes and to be around these people and great minds, it will definitely push you to the next level.”
Speaking of BJJ and sambo skills, you have some slick submissions on your record, the most recent being a straight ankle lock/achilles lock at WSOF 5. You don’t see guys get the finish with that move too often, would you say that your experience with sambo allows you the upper hand with a submission like that?
“Every submission that’s out there has a little detail or secret attached to it and for every different person with a different body type, there are certain ways to do it. It’s totally different to finish leg locks in an MMA fight versus a grappling match, so knowing sambo and then getting to work on jiujitsu with guys like John Danaher, you learn the little details that make a big difference.”
When I asked Danny from WSOF who he specifically wanted to get some press before this card, you were the first guy that he suggested. Tell me about your experience with WSOF and the staff so far?
“Believe it or not, and I’m not saying this just to sell the brand, but from what I’ve seen so far these guys are very professional and they have been treating the fighters very well. One thing that people need to remember is that this is only their ninth show and look how much growth has already been made. It looks to me that this team and organization are going to have a great future. So I’m really happy working for them and I’m looking forward to the good things to come.”
Back to this fight with Nunez. How do you see the fight unfolding and how do you get your hand raised?
“I’m always visualizing that I win the fight. I also try to go over every scenario where I’m in the worst situation, the best situation, having to go three rounds or just ten seconds, so when I go into the real action there’s no surprises. Only God knows what is going to happen and I believe in the strength He has given me. I just try to make the most out of it by His grace, that’s it.”
It seems like more and more fighters are finding spirituality whether it be in God or other means. You’re obviously a man of strong faith, so I’m wondering how important your faith is in regards to competing? How does it transition into confidence in the cage?
“It’s the number one thing for me, it gives me so much power and confidence because in my belief, if you have pure intentions and whole-heartedly believe in God, anything that comes out of it will be good for you. So knowing that, when I’m stepping in the cage I’m free of all the hesitation and question of can I or can’t I do this. I’m going there prepared and I know whatever comes out of it, comes only from God so I’ll accept it, but my goal is to pray for the best and be ready for the worst. I’m free of pressure because I’m not afraid of the results, I don’t need to act tough or have any emotion toward my opponent. I go in there with only God in my heart. Why do you need thunder in your mouth when you have a God in your heart who gives you lightning in your hands.”
In conclusion, why should all the fans tune in on March 29th?
“Don’t miss WSOF 9 because the main card is going to be crazy, all these guys are going to bring the heat and I will be bringing the best of me into my fight and show off some new stuff!”
Follow Ozzy on Twitter: @OzzyMMA1