Sunday, September 15, 2013

Rachel Sazoff Interview

Photo Credits:
Photo 1: Shoot It MMA
Photo 2: Paul Loveking
Photos 3-4: Hex Linc Photos
Photo 5: Kelly McQueen

At first glance of the record of Rachel Sazoff as an amateur, you may not be overly impressed at the 4-4 record. But some things you need t take into account is Rachel has consistently fought tough opposition and in most cases was at a big weight disadvantage. Rachel is actually very skilled and as she makes her pro debut on October 4th against Kaline Medeiros for CES MMA, if she can get steady opponents in her weight class, I expect her to have a long and successful pro career.

Q: The first time I saw you in person was the loss to Rebecca Gruitza and saw you a few more times, most recently being the Rebecca Heintzman fight. Over that time you seemed to have really improved and learned how to handle the size disadvantage, would you agree with that?
A: Yeah, absolutely. When I fought Rebecca Gruitza, I was at an eight inch height disadvantage there and I was trying to find a way to get in because I was at such a huge reach disadvantage. I thought I did a pretty good job at that. I thought I could have possibly won that fight but I understand it could have gone either way. Heintzman was a very strong fighter. I have gotten a lot better at compensating for me being the smaller fighter all the time.

Q: Is there something you did to get better or did it just happen over time?
A: I think the more time I spent in the cage the more I adapted. I got used to it and the more we train will help for sure. For Rebecca Gruitza I wasn't with my strength and conditioning coach for long at all. Being with him between fights has helped a lot more.

Q: One reason I like you is you always have the fight whoever whenever attitude, as a pro to do you have to be more picky?
A: I would say yes. Unlike as an ammy, your pro record sticks with you. Ideally, I don't see it being as big an issue because the ideal class for me is 105, I always fought heavier at 115 and 120. I was trying to fight at 105 for this one but it is hard to find girls in that class so we are doing a catch weight at 110. I am definitely much stronger than I was and will keep getting better and pick smart fights and not put myself at as big a disadvantage as I have in the past.

Q: Do you expect there will be more potential opponents at 105 as a pro?
A: Absolutely! One of the problems I run into is that there are not as many of those girls on the east coast. It has been hard for people to find me opponents at my weight. A lot pf the girls fighting at 105 are in Invicta which is a huge goal of mine. In general, there aren't as many girls as on the west coast. When I come across a girl I would like to fight, I cant find anyone to fly them in cause it costs so much money, so I end up taking a fight with a bigger fighter, otherwise I will have no one to fight at all. I will be careful not to do that as much. I hope more 105 girls start popping up cause that would be ideal.

Q: Do you think people can look at your record and underestimate you not realizing you fought a lot of tough fighters and have given up so much of a weight advantage?
A: Yeah, absolutely! 4-4 is definitely a deceiving record. I have fought people who were 5-0, 5-1, Rebeca Heintzman is 6-0. I am fighting girls with legit records. If you go by my record, it can be deceiving but I am trying to fight the best girls in my weight class and I think that should count for something.

Q: Why did you decide that now was the time to go pro?
A: I couldn't find anyone at my weight class anymore. I would speak to Nichole Castillo and stuff and there were people but they were from Michigan and Michigan fighters cant fight here and fighters from here cant fight in Michigan. Due to the dilemma of not getting fights at a lower weight class and not wanting to fight at 115 because of finding myself in tight decisions I could have won but I was compensating too much, I decided I would turn pro. I have eight fights and can find better fights with girls my size. I feel ready. When you walk at weight or lighter and fighting girls cutting fifteen pounds, it plays a factor. I am walking now at 108 and that is light for someone fighting at my weight class.

Q: You are fighting Kaline Medeiros, what do you know about her?
A: I believe her to be more of a stand-up fighter. I am sure she has ground, it is MMA, we need to practice every aspect. I am predominately ground but I like to stand. She seems super aggressive, wants to take your head off. She has never fought below 125 to my understanding which I am keeping in mind because it can make her the bigger fighter on fight day. I am hoping the weight cut will even it out. She has power and I expect her to have a lot of power during the fight.

Q: She has the four pro fights, but with amateur's you actually have more total fights, so does that eliminate any experience advantage?
A: I would say it would even experience out. But she has fought some tough fighters like myself as an ammy. I am aware she knocked Stephanie Eggink out and she is a goof fighter. She fought Peggy Morgan and she is in the Ultimate Fighter house now. She has fought good people and may have extra power that I haven't had to deal with, but when it comes to ring experience we are pretty much even.

Q: You are at your best on the ground and your clinch game keeps getting better. Does the fact that she has been submitted a few times give you confidence the submission can be there for you?
A: I am always trying to work on my Jiu-Jitsu game because it is where my heart is. The fact she has been submitted before I have put thought into. Because I prefer to be on the ground, yeah, it gives me some confidence but I also know I have had problems finishing opponents so I am not getting super excited about that fact. I still have to be technical but I am confident in my Jiu-Jitsu game, I will roll with anybody.

Q: You have gone to many decisions, this is five minute rounds though, safe to say you are confident in your cardio if it goes the distance?
A: Yeah, most my fights have been three three minute rounds except my last fight with Roya Darvishian, we did three five minute rounds in Virginia. The pace of a stand-up fight I haven't had to address before but in general I am confident in my conditioning at all times. I believe I can do five minute rounds at a high intensity pace, but that wont be fully shown till the fight because I haven't had to deal with it in the past. I am used to decisions and that might help me out a bit.

Q: Is there something about pro rules you are excited to do for the first time?
A: I have been fortunate that even though I live in Jersey with restricted rules, I have fought many times in Ohio and my last in Virginia where they had full pro rules. Nothing in particular because they have been available in the past. Maybe elbows because I like to be in the clinch and they may help me out. Besides that, nothing to extreme.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: I honestly don't. I think it will be a hard fight from the beginning. Because I do go to decisions, it may go that way, I hope it doesn't. If it goes to the ground, a submission is very likely.

Q: After this, how active do you want to be as a pro?
A: Every few months before. That is what I did as an ammy and I always stay in shape. As long as I don't get seriously injured, which I have never had happen, I would like to fight every three or four months. If the match-up is there, I will take it and am always at weight so that is never an issue.

Q: Long term, I assume the goal is Invicta?
A: Absolutely! I think for all girls, if you are serious about the sport, you wanna fight for Invicta. The best girls are there and you should want to prove yourself and show what you can do. The best way to do that is fight the girls on the Invicta roster because they have experience, are good fighters, and it is an awesome opportunity.

Q: If someone is going to this fight and has never seen Rachel Sazoff fight, what can they expect?
A: From me, they can expect a high paced, energy fight. For those who haven't seen me, they may expect grappling but those who have seen me, I have not show stand-up but they can expect it this time. I am working on being well-rounded and people can expect to see that. I have been working on a good wrestling game. A high paced fight I can hold the entire time which I think separates me from some fighters.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: My school Ricardo Almeida Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Pedro Rivera my boxing coach, Brian Blue for my strength and conditioning, Brazen Boxing in Philadelphia has helped me a lot for this fight, everybody at Elite Wrestling, and Matt Pletcher who I am excited to have in my corner for this fight.

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