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TRAINING: This camp has been more diverse than any other preparation I've had so far. With short breaks, I've basically been training seriously since the beginning of the year. First I went to Thailand in February to work on my Muay Thai skills. When I came back to Germany, I did some heavy strength training with Wolfgang Unsöld over at YPSI. Once we knew I would be fighting in Stockholm, I brought in some specific coaches and training partners like highly decorated Polish boxing coach Zbigniew Raubo, German Muay Thai champion Simon Hinkel and ADCC European champion Tero Pyylampi. Working with them nicely complimented the regular training with my head coach and sensei Yasin Seiwasser.
Thoughts on opponent, Ben Saunders? Saunders is a real veteran of the sport and exactly the type of opponent I need to face if I want to break into the upper third of the UFC welterweight division. He's been doing pretty well in his latest UFC run, however, he has mostly faced fairly one-dimensional competition. I've worked very hard to round out my skillset during the last couple of years and I'm prepared to give him hell wherever the fight goes.
When and why did you start training for fighting? My absolute role model as a child was Jackie Chan. I really wanted to be able to fight like him and wanted to learn Kung Fu. Since there was nothing like it in our small village of Balingen, my parents sent me to Judo training. Even without Kung Fu techniques like the eagle claw or the snakebite, I felt at home in Judo and kept training for five years. A friend later introduced me to Tae Kwon Do which was a lot of fun as well. I stayed with TKD until an MMA school opened near Balingen and after my first trial there, I knew what I wanted to do in the future. My first MMA fight came at age seventeen in Leipzig.
What ranks and titles have you held?
* Southern German BJJ Champion (2007, 2008)
* German BJJ Champion (2006, 2007)
* German Submission Wrestling Champion (2008)
* Eastern German MMA Champion (2008)
Do you have any heroes? My parents.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? I am super excited that the UFC has given me the opportunity to showcase my skills in the Octagon.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I started fighting straight out of high school.
What was your job before you started fighting? I’ve worked as an IT system merchant for German Telekom.