In fresh start, Bellator 189's Sam Sicilia not willing to die with bullets in chamber

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Sam Sicilia makes absolutely no excuses for the three losses that marked the end of his 12-fight UFC run. But he also knows things are going to be different moving forward.

“Every fighter is their own worst critic, but you take a step back and do your best and look at things you can improve on, and you add that to your game,” Sicilia told MMAjunkie. “I’ve had losses where I’m like, ‘You know what, I got caught, but I got caught going for it.’ You don’t walk away feeling bad about yourself. My last fight, I don’t feel good about. I didn’t really go for it like I usually do. If it was a gun fight, I died with bullets in my gun.”

Sicilia was handed a decision loss by Gavin Tucker in their February meeting at UFC Fight Night 105. He was subsequently released from the promotion but quickly found a new home with Bellator.

The 31-year-old Sikjitsu fighter said the change of employer offered him an opportunity to consider his approach in the cage.

“You’ve got to take a step back and look at your career,” Sicilia said. “It’s about fighting. It’s still the big fight. It’s still under the lights. At the end of the day, once you get in that cage, it brings the best out of you. It’s about making sure your mindset is ready every fight and competing at the highest level and competing at your best and finding what that takes to get there.

“A lot of times, there’s that worry of, ‘Am I going to get cut?’ and worrying about that I need to look more professional or look more slick or whatever it may be. It’s about going in there and getting your win and making the most of these opportunities given to you really.”

Sicilia (15-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) kicks off his Bellator campaign tonight in a featherweight bout against former bantamweight champ Marcos Galvao (18-8-1 MMA, 9-5 BMMA) at Bellator 189, which takes place at WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Okla. That matchup takes place on the MMAjunkie-streamed prelims that precede the night’s Spike-broadcast main card.

Sicilia admits he hasn’t been closely following Galvao’s career to date but was aware of his opponent when given the matchup.

“I’ve seen him fight before,” Sicilia said. “He’s a tough guy. He’s been at the top, a champ at 135. The guy’s a winner. He knows how to win, good jiu-jitsu guy. That being said, I give him a lot of credit. He’s won a lot of fights. He knows how to win. Even some of his losses, he got robbed, but that’s a tough thing to come back from. It’s got to be mentally tough.”

That said, Sicilia knows to truly be at his best, his focus needs to be on what he’s bringing to the cage, not what his opponent might present.

“I’ve gone into Brazil and knocked out black belts,” Sicilia said. “I’m not selling myself short. I know how to do that. It’s about defining the fight and making it yours.”

The fight marks a new beginning for Sicilia, one that he believes could prove quite valuable. More relaxed than before, more focused on the aspects of his career he can control, Sicilia believes it’s time to get back to winning and back to putting on a show.

“It’s racking up wins and getting on a roll and keeping that momentum; that’s what I’m looking forward to doing,” Sicilia said. “That will take care of itself if you just focus on one fight at a time and get rolling. Right after the next, I want to roll right into another fight.

“I feel like I’ve said that a million times, but I need that to happen, and I’ve got to hold up my end, which is winning. Go in and win, get a finish, and that’s a big deal. That’s kind of where I’m at. I’ve had a lot of fights. I’ve got a lot of experience, and now I’ve got to focus on winning.”

For more on Bellator 189, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Sam Sicilia vs. Marcos Galvao, Alexis Dufresne vs. Amber Leibrock set for Bellator 189

Longtime UFC fighter Sam Sicilia now has a date and an opponent for his Bellator debut.

Sicilia (15-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) will take on former bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao (18-8-1 MMA, 8-5 BMMA) in a featherweight bout at Bellator 189 in December. A Bellator official told MMAjunkie of the booking today.

In addition, Alexis Dufresne (6-3 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) will take on Amber Leibrock (2-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in a women’s featherweight bout.

Bellator 189 takes place Dec. 1 at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. The card airs on Spike following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

Sicilia came to Bellator earlier this year as a free agent after a 12-fight run in the UFC, where he went 5-7. He got his start with the promotion on Season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” the only live season of the show.

The veteran fighter will be trying to snap a three-fight skid to get his first win since July 2015. His UFC tenure closed out with a knockout loss to Doo Ho Choi in November 2015, a submission loss to Gabriel Benitez 13 months ago and a decision loss to Gavin Tucker in February.

Marcos Galvao

Galvao will be trying to get back on track, as well. The longtime Bellator fighter won the bantamweight title in March 2015 with a submission of Joe Warren. But in his first defense, which came 15 months later, he lost the title to Eduardo Dantas. He rebounded with a split call over L.C. Davis this past December, but headed back to the loss column at Bellator 175 in March against Emmanuel Sanchez.

Dufresne submitted Marloes Coenen in her promotional debut at Bellator 155 in May 2016, but in March headed back to the loss column when she was stopped with a second-round TKO by Gabrielle Holloway at Bellator 174. Including a pair of decision losses in her two fights in the UFC, Dufresne has dropped three of her past four fights.

Liebrock will be making her Bellator debut after fighting her first three pro bouts under the Invicta FC banner. There, she had first-round knockout wins over Marina Shafir and Amy Coleman sandwiched around a TKO loss to current featherweight champion Megan Anderson in January 2016.

The latest Bellator 189 card now includes:

  • Julia Budd vs. Arlene Blancowe – for women’s featherweight title
  • Chris Honeycutt vs. Rafael Lovato
  • Hisaki Kato vs. Chidi Njokuani
  • Marcos Galvao vs. Sam Sicilia
  • Alexis Dufresne vs. Amber Leibrock

For more on Bellator 189, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Sam Sicilia 'felt really heard' during Bellator contract negotiations, aims to start winning again

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A change of of scenery can at times be daunting, but if contract negotiations were any indication, Sam Sicilia believes he’ll settle in just fine at his new home with Bellator.

After a five-year, 12-fight run under the UFC banner, Sicilia (15-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) inked a multi-fight deal with Bellator last month. The veteran featherweight said the financial aspect paired with the opportunity to compete more frequently were all too appealing, and he praised Bellator for meeting his wishes.

“I felt really heard (during contract negotiations),” Sicilia told MMAjunkie. “It’s really not a big step backwards (from UFC). It’s a different company, but you still get a shot at beating the big guys and being in the big fights. A lot of guys are moving there. It just feels like a good fit to be around.”

More than being pleased about how the company handled him, Sicilia said he’s eager to have a fresh start with Bellator. He admits the end of his UFC run did not represent his best work, with the 31-year-old having lost his past three contests.

Sicilia said he feels his UFC career got into a holding pattern that was hard to break out of. He believes the promotion saw him as little more than a brawler capable of providing a highlight-reel knockout, and he did his best to maintain that standard even if it wasn’t in his best interest.

“I was being sold off as a brawler and was playing my role a little bit,” Sicilia said. “They would put this fight together, because they want two brawlers, so I thought, ‘I’ll just go brawl with him.’ I wasn’t so much focused on winning as I should have been.”

Sicilia said he’s not going to revert completely away from engaging in action fights, but he said getting the desired results are going to become a greater priority. He hasn’t won a fight since July 2015 but expects that to change in short order.

The goal is not only to get back on the winning track, but also to get a winning streak going.

“It sucks to say, but I’m on a losing streak, which sucks to say as a competitor,” Sicilia said. “With the UFC it felt like no matter what there’s a long time between every single fight. It wasn’t because anything that I was doing. Even when I was on a roll I couldn’t get another fight for seven, eight months. It’s hard for momentum to get going either way.

“You lose, you want to get back in there and redeem yourself, and that doesn’t happen. Then when you’re on a roll and you get the biggest knockout of your life, it’s like, ‘Throw me back in there.’ And you don’t get that, either. It just wasn’t good for me.”

Sicilia said he expects to make his Bellator debut before the end of the year. He hopes he can have an immediate impact on the 145-pound division, but he’s not going to call out any of the big names just yet. Sicilia said he believes in Bellator’s vision for his future, and he hopes to make a big impression in his first fight with the organization.

“I won’t be a guy that just simply exists in Bellator and go back to the win-lose-win-lose,” Sicilia said. “I’m ready now to put it all together and get this winning streak going. This first guy has to be when my losing streak comes to a screeching halt.”

For more on the upcoming Bellator schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

12-fight UFC veteran Sam Sicilia latest to sign multi-fight Bellator contract

Sam Sicilia is the latest free-agent fighter to move over to Bellator from the UFC.

Sicilia (15-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), who completed his UFC contract with a unanimous-decision loss to Gavin Tucker at UFC Fight Night 105 in February, has signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator to compete in the featherweight division, a Bellator official today told MMAjunkie.

After getting signed to the UFC following a stint on Season 15 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Sicilia went on to compete 12 times in the UFC featherweight division. He went 5-7 in his dozen octagon appearances and earned three wins by knockout.

Sicilia, who trains out of the Sikjitsu gym in Spokane, Wash., told MMAjunkie he plans to make his Bellator debut in the coming months. Although he’s spent the past five-plus years in the world’s leading MMA organization, Sicilia said he only views the change of scenery as a positive.

“It’s really not a step backwards,” Sicilia said. “It’s a different company, but you still get a shot at beating the big guys and being in the big fights. A lot of guys are moving there. It just feels like a good fit to be around. It’s still the big fight. That’s the biggest thing for me: It’s still on the big stage.”

Sicilia’s UFC career ended with three consecutive losses. He hasn’t won a fight since July 2015 but said he feels he’s currently in his prime. The heavy-handed striker intends on showing the full extent of his skill set under the Bellator banner.

“I’ve just been staying in the gym, and I really feel like now I’m ready to compete at the highest level,” Sicilia said. “I won’t be a guy that just simply exists in Bellator and go back to the win-lose-win-lose. I’m ready now to put it all together and get this winning streak going.”

For more on the upcoming Bellator schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie