Dubbed by UFC president Dana White as “the longer term” of the game, 21-year-old Cameron Saaiman (6-0-0) is on a mission to show him proper on his debut at UFC 282 in Vegas on Dec. 10.
The South African, a protégé of Dricus “Stillknocks” du Plessis and coach Morné Visser, will combat Steven Koslow (6-0-0) in a bantamweight bout after securing his UFC spot with a Contender Sequence win over Josh Wang-Kim, by way of KO/TKO at 2:52 of Spherical 3.
This prompted White to say: “Dude you’re spectacular. For 21 years previous, the best way you stored your composure in there … completely an expert man. Your new nickname is ‘The Future’.”
Saaiman was the youngest lively male UFC fighter till then-17-year-old Raul Rosas Jr. (now 18) received a contract a month later. Rosas Jr. will even be making his full UFC debut on Dec. 10, towards Jay Perrin.
The South African instructed ESPN: “It is an absolute praise and it is an honour to be known as that by the boss man himself.
“If something, I believe it added lots of motivation, as a result of since I began as an expert, I turned professional after I was 18 and there was lots of criticism due to that and I needed to show myself each single time.
“All I’ll do on Dec. 10 is simply show Boss Dana proper. I’ll show him proper and I’ll present folks that I’m certainly the longer term.”
Explaining how he fell in love with blended martial arts, the Pretoria-born Saaiman stated: “My father really labored for Carnival Metropolis, which hosted the EFC occasions — the native occasions right here in South Africa.
“He was a challenge supervisor there and I really simply occurred to be there with him at his work and that is mainly how I fell in love with the game. I watched a couple of fights after which I went to my father and instructed him: ‘I wish to do that. That is actually cool.’
“As a 12-year-old child, you may get bored with many sports activities. I did skateboarding for a couple of week and a half earlier than stopping that, so I actually jumped round doing lots of sports activities, however this one actually caught.”
Being taken underneath Du Plessis’ wing took Saaiman’s love for the game to new heights and the pair will combat collectively at UFC 282 — the primary time South Africa can be represented by a couple of fighter at a UFC occasion. Du Plessis can be up towards Darren Until within the middleweight division.
Though they’re shut now, Saaiman revealed that it took time for 28-year-old ‘Stillknocks’ to actually change into keen about mentoring him.
Saaiman defined: “I had an important sponsor — This autumn Gasoline was a completely superb sponsor that helped me since I used to be a child, simply serving to with primary gear and stuff like that. I did not come from a really financially sturdy background, so having a sponsor helped by way of paying for gear and competitors charges. It was an absolute blessing.
“When their enterprise was trying to sponsor an even bigger crew, they really gave me a possibility then to shift gyms. As a part of the enterprise deal, they might sponsor the health club, however Dricus needed to coach me.
“I believe at some phases, particularly at the start, he did not actually wish to do it, but it surely was a large asset to the crew. We shortly developed a coach-student relationship — after which later [a relationship as] coaching companions and pals.”
For each South African MMA and the UFC bantamweight division alike, the occasion in Vegas may signify a ceremonial passing of the baton.
“It is an absolute honour [to fight with du Plessis]. I believe that is the primary time ever that South Africans should not just one man on the primary card, however a crew of two going to the UFC to signify not solely South Africa, however Staff CIT. I am very lucky,” Saaiman stated.
“We have been having an important yr. By way of our crew’s momentum, it has been completely superb. I actually am wanting ahead to showcasing our abilities and exhibiting what we have now left. I believe we did that properly within the Contender Sequence, however I believe we are able to do it even higher now within the UFC debut.”
As regards to Koslow, a fellow UFC debutant who’s 4 years his senior, Saaiman spoke with respect, however definitely not worry or deference.
“He is a superb opponent,” Saaiman stated of his opponent, who hails from Jacksonville, Florida.
“Clearly, he has a great floor sport, however the consequence will keep the identical. My hand can be raised come combat night time.”