In the brutal sport of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), winning depends to a large extent on a fighter's capacity to survive their opponent's onslaught, before striking with that killer blow, or sinking in one of a number of submissions. One man who has survived his share of battles in the Octagon is Sydney, Australia's super-heavyweight, Elvis Sinosic.
Having trained in a variety of arts, including Freestyle Wrestling, Tae Kwon Do, Boxing, Jun Fan (Kali, Silat, Thai), Kai Shin Freestyle, Capoeria, Kickboxing, Judo, JB Will Shootfighting, and Machado BJJ, Elvis, 36, is as well-rounded as they come and he approaches his fights with only one thought in mind: "To win".
Known as one of the best grapplers currently in MMA, and holder of a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Elvis has already recorded eight wins on the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) circuit, three of the last four through arm bar submission.
The 190cm, 97 kilogram fighter has competed as a professional since 1995, displaying his skills in such prestigious events as the Abu Dhabi World Submission Championships, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the K-1 Grand Prix as its highlighted superfight as well as Pancrase, RINGS, Warriors Realm, Fighter Extreme, UCC (now called TKO), Australian Vale Tudo Open and Caged Combat 1.
Clearly a man who will take on all-comers, Elvis hopes to add to his impressive resume when he faces his next opponent, Ultimate Fighter Three champion, Micheal Bisping, on April 21 at UFC 70 in Manchester, UK.
Having come off a recent win against Mark Epstein at December's Cage Rage, Elvis is ready to do what he does best: bring the pain to whoever faces him. In the following interview Elvis tells me of his background as an MMA fighter, how he trains to beat the best and what he has planned for the future.
[ Q ] When did you begin training in the martial arts and what was the first style you trained in?
[ Elvis ] I started training a long time ago. My first Martial Art was Judo. I started when I was in year four, I believe, which probably made me about 9-years old.
[ Q ] You have chosen one of the toughest sports to compete in. What made you choose a career in MMA?
[ Elvis ] I really stepped into MMA as a test for myself. It was my first event that made me realize how great this sport was and that I wanted to be involved in it. Stepping in the cage was one of the most amazing feelings.
[ Q ] What traits make a good MMA fighter? What percentage of these do you have and how do you use them to your advantage as a fighter?
[ Elvis ] There are many traits that make a good fighter: desire, heart, intelligence, skill, strength, endurance, adaptability and so on. Each fighter is an individual and the way to be successful is to balance your strengths with your weaknesses while always continuing to improve.
I believe that I have all the traits necessary to be a good fighter. As to what percentage, I have no idea. But I think that my greatest strengths are my heart, desire and intelligence.
[ Q ] When did you know you had a talent to compete as a mixed martial artist? Was there a defining moment for you?
[ Elvis ] That would be my first ever match in the Cage. Back on March 22nd 1997. I won that first fight by KO in 40 seconds and I knew that I'd be doing this for some time.
[ Q ] Who has been your toughest opponent and why?
[ Elvis ] Each fight that I work toward is my toughest fight. The next fight I have will be my toughest. I have had some particularly tough fights though: usually the ones that go the distance are some of the most physically demanding.
The ones against Frank Shamrock, Renato Babalu and Alessio Sakara come to mind. The fights that were stopped due to cuts early are some of the toughest to deal with mentally because I really don't feel like I am out of the game - happened against Tito Ortiz and Evan Tanner. I guess overall I've had a few tough fights in my career.
[ Q ] What kind of fighter would you consider yourself to be? What are your strengths?
[ Elvis ] I'm the sort of fighter that always moves forward. I always fight to win. I never fight to "Not lose". I am always looking for the finish. To me that is the most important thing in a fight. I want to end the fight. If the fight goes to the judges, then I am responsible for any result. Why leave it in someone else's hands?
[ Q ] In your last few fights this was certainly not the case. In fact, in three of your last four fights you submitted your opponents with arm bars. It seems this is a specialty move for you. Could you describe how you would set up this move and why it is so effective? What do you particularly like the arm bar as a finisher?
[ Elvis ] Interesting question and I was just discussing this recently. Actually, I believe all my submission wins have been to armbars. I don't have a particular preference for armbars. When I do BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) or submission grappling, I use armbars, chokes, shoulder locks and leg locks.
I submit from guard, mount, side, from the back and from half-guard. I try never to limit myself. I am always looking for the finish. I believe that the reason I have finished with so many armbars is because that is what my opponents have given me.
I have a submission mentality. When I get on top of someone, I am always looking for the finish. Whether they give me the opportunity, or whether I create the opportunity. You know I'm never going to hold on and wait.
[ Q ] Exactly. Why wait for your opponent to get the upper hand. What fitness components make a good MMA fighter? Which of these is most important once that bell rings and why?
[ Elvis ] Well you need good physical fitness. A combination of what we would refer to as regular endurance, as well as explosive endurance. What is also important is mental endurance. The ability to never give up and to always push ahead regardless of the circumstances. I think they are all equally important to the MMA fighter.
[ Q ] Of all the styles you have used over the years, what is the most practically effective and why?
[ Elvis ] If you had to pick just one style, without any cross training, I would choose Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). It is tried and tested. It works under pressure. It was proven in the early days as the most effective of single styles.
[ Q ] What style do you enjoy most and why?
[ Elvis ] Really it changes. Sometimes I love my BJJ. Sometimes I love my No Gi grappling. Sometimes I'm into my Thai Boxing. Sometimes it's all about MMA. I personally think they're all great. I wouldn't be doing them all if I didn't.
[ Q ] Indeed they are. You are fighting for the UFC at UFC70 in the UK on April 21st. For this fight who will be your opponent and what approach will you use to win against him?
[ Elvis ] I will be fighting Michael Bisping at UFC 70 in Manchester, UK. I will use the same approach I always do. I will bring the fight to him and see where it takes me.
[ Q ] Describe the training program you are using to prepare for this fight, including the technical aspects of your game, how much cardio/strength, amount of sparring?
[ Elvis ] In regard to my training, I have a varied training system. During the mornings and throughout the day I work my strength and cardio. In the evenings I work my technique and conditioning.
In the lead up to a fight I spar twice a week. I do pad work 3-times-a-week. I do weights 3-times-a-week also. In the six weeks prior to a fight I include a muscular endurance program. I also do cardio/running 3-times-a-week and I try to grapple every evening with my students to keep my groundwork up to par.
[ Q ] Could you provide more detail on the muscular endurance component of your program?
[ Elvis ] Muscular Endurance Program: 10 exercises, 15 reps each. I aim to complete all of this in five minutes for four sets. Each fortnight the exercises get progressively more difficult. In the lead up to this I do core strength work; Bench, Deadlifts, Squats, and other power movements. I also use Kettle bell training as an aid to my strength and conditioning.
Endurance: I run for a set time. My goal is to beat the distance I make in that set time with every run. I monitor my heart rate to ensure that I maintain an average of higher than 75% of my max.
|HEART RATE CALCULATOR|
[ Q ] Now onto what you eat. Do you have a specific diet plan? What would you typically eat in the weeks leading up to a fight?
[ Elvis ] No specific diet. I try and stay away from carbohydrates after 6 p.m. I try to eat smaller meals (to keep my metabolism up). I tend to eat lots of chicken, rice and pastas in the lead up to a fight.
[ Q ] Take us through your typical pre-fight ritual. What exactly do you do and why? Exactly what is on your mind as you enter the octagon?
[ Elvis ] I pretty much just relax and lie around doing as little as possible. Once I'm about half an hour out, I'll start my warm-up. I skip to get warmed up. Do some pummelling with my partner (a wrestling drill), and then I will do several rounds of pad work. By the time I hit the Octagon I'm excited about the match. I just want to fight. I'm usually just pumped.
[ Q ] As an MMA fighter, once you enter the Octagon you have to adapt to what is thrown at you. How would a natural stand up fighter best counter a ground fighter and vice versa?
[ Elvis ] The key is to understand what the other fighter wants to do and how they want to do it. Once you understand what they're doing, it's easier to determine what you need to do to counter it. From there you can formulate game plan and training strategies to ensure your best possible chance for success. The key to success is knowledge. Ignorance only leads to failure.
[ Q ] What would be the best method for increasing punching and kicking power?
[ Elvis ] The obvious thing is to do more punching and kicking. Improve your form and technique. Also being fit and conditioned gives you the mental courage to hit harder (because you're not concerned about gassing).
On a more physical level, having a good strength and conditioning program will help. You can then move onto more explosive training drills like plyometrics and kettle bell work.
[ Q ] You run your own school, Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts Academy. What are some of the main lessons you try impart to your students?
[ Elvis ] These are some of our basic tenets:
"Leave your ego at the door"
"Winning is not the goal
The goal is to achieve the performance required to win
Winning is the outcome
Many dream of winning
Very few dream of performance
Very few win"
And of course... have fun and enjoy what you do.
[ Q ] All martial arts schools have a unique way in which they pass on knowledge and improve skills. What exactly does your academy provide in the way of martial arts instruction? What is unique about your school?
[ Elvis ] We have a structured way of doing things, yet we still like to keep it informal in a friendly family way. Coming and training with us you'll feel like you've joined a family or group of friends with like-minded goals. You'll have fun achieving your personal goals while pushing yourself to the limits to achieve your best.
[ Q ] What are your future MMA goals? What would you like to achieve before you eventually retire?
[ Elvis ] I'd like one day to win a UFC World Title. I would also like to train someone to achieve this goal as well.