A big boost for the UFC was the arrival of Gokhan Saki in 2017 for promotion. Rarely does a situation happen where such a big kickboxing star decides to try out his skills in little gloves so it was automatically a big deal? In September of the same year, Saki made his successful debut and a lot was expected.
Still, ten months later he suffered a heavy knockout defeat from Khalil Rountree. A period of almost three years ensued, during which Saki failed to re-enter the Octagon. He contracted some fights, but then canceled them due to injuries, and in February this year, the news appeared that the cooperation had been terminated.
Saki is returning to kickboxing this weekend, performing at the Glory Collision III event, and this time the conversation with him was done by Ariel Helwani. But first and foremost, the first topic was his departure from the UFC, actually a project that ultimately didn’t turn out to be successful.
"After my first fight, I had too many injuries. I injured my shoulder and both knees. I was tired, constantly. I trained a lot and then I would get injured again before the fight."
Body and UFC
"My body wasn't used to something like that.
Before coming to the UFC I didn't fight for two years or train in the right way. Then I started grappling and doing BJJ, it was not something I could do in the right way." "I came to a situation where I was afraid to go to grappling training because I was afraid I would get hurt again.
I was mentally done," Gokhan explained his problems. He decided to shed light on the situation when it came to leaving. Although the media reported that he was fired, he says that in fact, everything came after a conversation in which he stated his side.
"It's not true that the UFC fired me. I called Mick Maynard and told him how things were, that I wasn't sure if I could prepare for a UFC fight, and that there was an opportunity for me to return to kickboxing."
"They let me. That's why I wanted to thank Dana White and Mick for everything they provided me. It was not easy for me to do. They gave me a great opportunity and I am sorry I failed to get it back the right way."
"I felt it was my duty. I gave it all, but it didn't work out. It's all this experience. Through MMA I learned a lot, even some different things in foot fighting that I will use as early as Saturday, "said the grateful but optimistic 38-year-old Turkish fighter, who training back at Mike’s Gym.