Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One-on-One: Meet MMA's 'Professor X'

Originally posted on

This Saturday, Xavier "Professor X" Foupa-Pokam (20-9) will make his UFC debut against veteran Denis Kang (31-11-1) in Montreal.

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, "Xavier who?"

Not much is known about the French-born Muay Thai specialist, but should he pull off the upset at UFC 97, you'll be hearing a lot more people pronounce "Foupa-Pokam" with ease.'s Ariel Helwani caught up with the UFC newcomer to talk about his Octagon debut and more. Below is a transcript of their conversation.

ARIEL HELWANI: How did it feel when you first got the call that you will be fighting in the UFC?
I was very happy and satisfied; I was waiting for it for a long time. The UFC is the biggest organization in the world and I want to become a champion one day. That’s where the best fighters are and that’s where I want to prove myself.

XAVIER FOUPA-POKAM: You hit a rough patch in your career several years ago when you only won three of nine fights. Was there ever a point that you thought your shot in the UFC wouldn’t come?
Not really. I just had to work more and improve myself. But I knew I would get (a shot at the UFC). The fact is that my goal is not only to be in the UFC, it was about being a good fighter in the UFC. I never doubted it, I just thought, ‘Ok, I have to prove myself now to show that I deserve to be there.’

You are currently enjoying the best winning streak of your career winning seven fights in a row. What are you doing differently now?
I’m a better overall fighter now. I can jiu-jitsu now; I can wrestle now. I have been working a lot on my jiu-jitsu at Samkuno, which is one of the best European BJJ schools. I have also been working a lot on my wrestling at Team Quest, which is where I am at the moment finishing my preparation. I used to be considered a Muay Thai MMA fighter, but today I am a better overall MMA fighter.

Since a lot of North American fans don’t much about you, can you talk a little more about who you have been training with for this upcoming fight?
I have been with my trainer (MMA fighter) Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate and all my teammates at "The Snake Team" in Paris, France. I have also been training at the Samkuno in Paris my BJJ. Now, I am finishing my training here at Team Quest in Temecula, California, with Dan Henderson, Krysztof Sozynski, who is also fighting on the same card as me (against Brian Stann) Thierry Rameau Sokoudjou, Lou Polley and all the other guys at Team Quest.

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