Andre Soukhamthath’s team wanted him to spend a couple weeks in China before he fought Sumudaerji in Shenzhen this Saturday and, understandably, he felt apprehensive, but then the light bulb came on.
“At first I was very iffy,” he said. “We tried to come up with a plan, and then we were like, ‘Oh, wait. The new PI is right there in Shanghai,’ so it just worked out perfectly.”
For the next couple of weeks, he and teammate Thiago Moises essentially lived at the new UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai and loved it.
“It was an amazing experience,” Soukhamthath said. “If I were to come here a week earlier, I would still be shocked just by the time change, by the culture, by the food, by just the atmosphere being here. Breathing the air is different, so I’m very happy my team and I came up with that vision and followed up with it.”
It was a perfect way to wrap up his first fight camp training with American Top Team in Florida. Previously, “The Asian Sensation” bounced around gyms, including Hard Knocks 365 and back home in Rhode Island, but he struggled to find consistency in his camps.
That steady support from the vast and available team at ATT gave him a sense of rejuvenation to prove that he is a better fighter than what his 2-4 record in the UFC shows.
“I wasn’t mentally there,” he said of his previous fights. “Now, I feel with that consistency of training and people really behind me, I think that is going to help me big-time mentally.”
Talking to him now, Soukhamthath has a different sense of belief, which isn’t to say it was lacking before, but more so that you can tell he feels like he finally has the structure necessary to make some headway in the crowded bantamweight division.
“It’s a brand new start,” he said. “I’m ready to take over.”
Although he is ready to reap the benefits from training in Florida, his heart hasn’t left Rhode Island one bit. In mid-August, he helped to donate school supplies and 100 backpacks to the Boys and Girls Club in Woonsocket, Rhode Island through the LeAndre Foundation, which is named after his late son. Soukhamthath was eager to thank his team for handling everything while he trained for his fight and mentioned that this is only his “first project.”
Between giving back to his community and a new gym, you can see the confidence radiating from Soukhamthath, and he thinks that will make all the difference on fight night.
“Every time, it’s pretty different, but this time, I’m pretty confident that no one is going to stop me, especially the guy I’m fighting.”
Zac Pacleb is a writer and producer for UFC.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ZacPacleb.