Augusto Sakai is ready to rise to the occasion ahead of his highest-profile fight to date.
A Contender Series Brazil graduate, Sakai (15-1-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) has gone unbeaten since joining the UFC roster in 2018 and is coming off back-to-back wins over Marcin Tybura and Blagoy Ivanov. Now he’s all set for the biggest test of his career against former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem in the main event of the UFC’s Sept. 5 show at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Sakai may only have a little more than a quarter of the career fights Overeem (46-18 MMA, 11-7 UFC) has on his resume, but the Brazilian is ready to level up and take one big step forward in his journey to the top.
“He’s very experienced,” Sakai told MMA Junkie. “He has good skills. He hits hard, and so do I. He’s a good striker, as am I. When we meet, I’ll show that I’m ready for this challenge. I’m 110 percent ready for one more win.”
Two of Sakai’s UFC victories have come inside the distance, while two came through razor-close decisions. His preference is always to finish his opponent via knockout where possible but, competing at the highest level, Sakai knows that things don’t always pan out that way.
“Everyone wants to see a fast finish. That’s also what I want,” he said. “I never like it when it goes to the judges. But it’s part of our sport. This is MMA. Across from me stands another tough fighter who trained just as hard, and wants to win just as badly. I accept that I won’t always win by KO or submission. Decisions aren’t always pretty, but they’re part of our game. It happens.”
But, regardless of the method of victory, Sakai knows that a win over former UFC title challenger Overeem will propel him into the group of elite contenders at the sharp end of the heavyweight division.
“I’m very happy with everything that’s happened in my career,” he said. “My positive results and current winning streak are the result of our work. It’s been years of hard work (and) this is the result. I know I can improve. I’m better than yesterday, and not as good as I’ll be tomorrow. I’ll keep working hard (and) evolving so I can one day capture the UFC championship belt.”