Opportunity to show myself to the world
The 25 year old proud Turkish featherweight and lightweight prospect, Emrah Sonmez, is someone to notice on the UK regional scene, holding an 8-1 record. Sonmez, the very accomplished mixed martial arts prospect is looking to get to the UFC sooner rather than later, but he’s mainly looking to prove himself as one of the best.
Hi Emrah. First of all, how did you get into MMA?, Do you have any background in any other sports?
“How I got into MMA was, I used to train under Khalid Ismail, my old kickboxing coach when I started at the tender age of 13 years old, couple years later I took along amateur boxing and carried that until I was 17 years old. One day coach Khalid said would you try MMA. I did not know what it was at that time and I said yes why not. I trained at least one month of BJJ and had my first amateur MMA fight and since then I’ve been fighting. My amateur MMA record was six fights five wins. I am a black belt in kickboxing and a blue belt in BJJ and have been training and competing in freestyle wrestling for past six years.”
Is MMA your full-time job? if not, what else do you know?
“At the moment MMA is my full-time job but I do teach kickboxing classes and do 1on1 training with people to pay my bills.”
What is the meaning behind your nickname “Anatolian Wolf”?
The meaning behind my nickname “Anatolian Wolf” is basically, I am of Turkish heritage. Before Turkey was named modern day Turkey that whole area was called Anatolia, which makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean Seas through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, and most countries have like their animals to represent for e.g. America has an eagle, Russia has a bear, Turkey has a wolf. Wolfs are very unique and fearless animals and have very specials characteristics, and I see myself as fearless as a wolf when I fight. We have a saying “the lion may be king of the jungle but a wolf doesn’t perform in a circus” and that’s the difference between them.
What is your favorite striking technique and grappling technique?
“My favorite striking technique when I fight is probably a double jab cross which I always catch my opponents with, it’s one that I always practice with my boxing coach as I have a long reach. And my grappling technique is probably double-leg takedown. Again I use my long reach to my advantage.”
You lost your first professional fight but have gone on to win your next eight fights. Talk about what you learned from that fight and how you have progressed since then?
“I lost my first pro fight to a very high-level wrestler, I did not expect it due to opponents pulling out, this one was last minute replacement. I didn’t really know much of him, but it was actually a blessing to lose that night and early in my career as I have learned a lot from my loss and used it to my advantage to become the fighter I am today. I took a year out and, I mainly focused more on grappling and finishes after that fight.”
You have fought at both lightweight and featherweight. What weight class do you feel more comfortable at and is weight cutting an issue for you?
“To be honest, I feel very comfortable in both weight classes as I already walk at 155lb naturally, so I don’t really cut much weight even If I do fight at 145lb, I always believe weight doesn’t win fights, fighting wins fights.”
Do you usually watch footage of your opponents and come up with a gameplan?
“When I get matched I just watch it once just to see what the opponents are about and we work on that. To be honest, when I train and get ready for a fight we cover every aspect of MMA just in case an opponent pulls out and last minute replacement happens, even as a martial artist you have to train every aspect and be ready for anything.”
What camp are you currently training with and who are some of your main sparring partners?
“Wrestling with Coach Amer Islami, who’s a very high-level wrestling coach and has many national champions under him. We have a lot of wrestlers who actually do MMA and BJJ in my club so we always help each other whilst getting ready for a fight. I also train in TKO Boxing Club which is based in East London with my coach Ian Chegwidden. He is a boxing coach we cover all areas when we train so we do boxing, kickboxing, shootboxing. I’ve trained with UFC fighters here in UK such as Rustam Khabilov and a good friend of mine Abu Azaiatar and many other fighters who fought in promotions in the UK. I feel like right now I am in my prime and ready for any promotions, I just need to be given an opportunity to show myself to the world.”
The UFC is coming to London in March and you have expressed that you want on that card. Anyone in the division you have your eyes on?
“Yes, UFC is coming to London and I actually live in London right next to the arena where it’s going to take place. I really want to fight on that card in my hometown as I have a big following here, and show everyone my skills and what I am capable of. To be honest, I’ll fight anyone in my weight class, I feel comfortable everywhere standing, wrestling, on the floor, as a martial artist I compete in every aspect of MMA, so wrestling individually, BJJ and kickboxing and it all has helped me with my MMA career.”
You have fought in England your whole career. Do you have any desire to travel elsewhere and fight? if so, where?
“Like I said I’m will to travel out of England to fight, I just to need to be given an opportunity.”
If the UFC debut doesn’t happen in March when are you looking to fight again?
“If the UFC does not happen most likely I will be competing in Cage Warriors here in the UK, which is another big promotion and a great step into UFC. I have been contacted by the UFC talent relation team and was asked for all my details which they will forward to matchmakers but only time will tell when they will give me a call, and I am hoping it will be the London show.”
Last question, where do you see yourself in three years?
“I see myself in UFC. The reason why I am saying this is I believe in my skills and I always believe in hard work. People who know me know how hard I work and sacrifice. If not now then eventually it will pay off. God is great and knowledge of everything.”