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Soukhamthath's ready to make his mark in MMA

March 17, 2012

Andre Soukhamthath, shown throwing a punch during a workout at Tri-Force MMA in Pawtucket, is one of the top bantamweight prospects in New England. He recently signed a promotional contract with Classic Entertainment & Sports.

If Woonsocket’s Andre Soukhamthath was looking to make his first full year as a professional mixed martial arts fighter a truly exceptional one, then he’s off to a brilliant start.
The electrifying bantamweight prospect kicked off the year by picking up his first pro victory on Feb. 3 with a second-round submission of Gilvan Santos before a large gathering of local fight fans at Twin River.
And last weekend, Soukhamthath became only the sixth MMA fighter to sign a promotional contract with Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports, which calls for him to fight four times over the next 18 months.
“I’m really happy to be with CES,” admitted Soukhamthath, who expects to debut with the CES colors in a June fight at Twin River. “After my first fight, (CES president Jimmy Burchfield) thought I would become a good addition to the team, and now I’m happy to be a part of it. Everything’s very good.”
Soukhamthath took some time on Friday morning to talk about a range of topics -- from his job working with local youngsters at the Woonsocket Boys’ & Girls’ Club to his last four fights, his training, and the support he’s received in his move to the professional ranks from his family, coaches, and friends.
The 2007 graduate of Woonsocket High also talked about his victory over Santos that turned out to be one of the highlights of CES’s ‘Extreme Measures’ show at the Twin River Event Center.
Soukhamthath overcame a tough body shot from one of Santos’s kicks and a knee ton the face in the opening round. But after Santos threw another kick to open the second round, Soukhamthath quickly took Santos to the ground, and just 44 seconds into the round, he put him away by slapping a guillotine choke on him.
“It was really fast-paced,” added Soukhamthath. “The guy I fought threw a lot of kicks, he had pretty good hands, and he caught me offguard because he was faster than I expected.
“But I give all the credit to my coaches, Keith and Pete Jeffrey from Tri-Force MMA. They did a great job telling me what to do, and I was glad I got to show some of my wrestling that I’ve been working a lot on at Tri-Force. You don’t usually see me take people down like that.”
Soukhamthath was hungry for a win, especially after losing his pro debut last Sept. 10 at the ‘Cage Titans VI -- United’ show at the Plymouth Memorial Hall in Plymouth, Mass. to Robbie Slade.
In that loss, a three-round majority decision in favor of Slade, most fans felt that Slade, a native of Plymouth, received a ‘hometown call’, especially since Soukhamthath dominated most of the fight.
“There’s no way he won that fight,” said Soukhamthath. “If anything, it was a draw. In the first round, I knocked him down with a jab and I made his eyes roll back, and in the second and third [rounds], I took him down both times, and the only thing he did was reverse me toward the end. There was no point in the fight he took me down. I defended his submissions. I don’t know what the judges saw.”
The loss made the hour-long drive home a long one for Soukhamthath, but he did come away with a couple of positives that he brought with him to the gym the following week.
“That fight taught me a lot,” said Soukhamthath. “That fight made me realize that I had to work more on my cardio and my strength and conditioning. And I needed patience. I went in for the kill right away because I saw blood and I probably shouldn’t have done that.”
Surprisingly, that defeat was the third in a row for Soukhamthath, who began last year by dropping a five-round unanimous decision to Frank Sforza for the Cage Titans Fighting Championship’s New England title belt on its ‘Mayhem’ show on Jan. 28 at Lombardo’s in Randolph, Mass.
On April 22, Soukhamthath lost another amateur title fight when he suffered a three-round unanimous-decision defeat to Rob Font at the American Fighting Organization’s ‘Night of Champions III’ card in Mansfield, Mass.
“Those fights were against two top-notch fighters,” remarked Soukhamthath. “[Sforza’s] doing really well as a pro, and I think Rob Font’s 2-0 right now. I think part of the reason I lost was because my wrestling wasn’t that good. It wasn’t like they really beat me up, but they were better wrestlers.”
After the loss to Font, Soukhamthath not only decided to devote more time to his wrestling, but he also opted to drop down a weight class, exiting the 145-pound featherweight division for the 135-point bantamweight ranks.
“When I was at 145, I kind of felt like some of the guys I fought were a lot bigger than me and felt stronger,” explained Soukhamthath. “But at 135, I feel like I’m the strong one. I can toss people around and be a bully.”
Unfortunately for Soukhamthath, the move to 135 managed to scare away a lot of amateur fighters in that weight class, and he ended up going almost the entire summer without a fight.
“I couldn’t get any fights in the amateurs,” admitted Soukhamthath. “When I made the drop to 135, I couldn’t find any fights at that weight. I hadn’t fought in almost five months and I wanted to fight badly, so that’s when I decided it was time to turn pro.”
Soukhamthath’s camp is quite a big one that extends to several coaches and MMA compounds throughout the Blackstone Valley. In addition to the Jeffrey brothers at Pawtucket’s Tri-Force MMA, he trains at Tim Burrill Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in North Providence, Tom Hafers’s U.S. MMA in Bellingham, Mass., and the Woonsocket Boxing Club, and on occasion, with his father, William Soukhamthath, a Muay Lao instructor.
While Soukhamthath is very grateful to his coaches, as well as his fiancee and manager, Jamie Thompson, for what they have done, he also wanted to make sure that he gave credit to where it was due, so he took the time to show his appreciation to all the people who have supported him throughout his career.
“I really appreciate my mom and dad, my family, and my friends for coming out and supporting me all the time,” added Soukhamthath. “I don’t see them much because I’m busy doing my thing, but I really appreciate it. It means a lot to me. It definitely helps me train and keeps me motivated.
“And I want to say hello to all the kids at the Boys’ & Girls’ Club and thank CES and all the people who have sponsored me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all these people in my life.”

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