Elvis Sinosic locks in an armbar against Shamoji Fujii.
While the popularity of MMA is currently spreading like wildfire all over the world, Elvis Sinosic started fighting long before people all over the world knew how to correctly apply a rear naked choke. Even though he has lost more fights than he has won, Sinosic’s ability to keep his fights exciting and finish his opponent from just about any position has made him one of the sport’s most popular athletes.
Scott and I had the opportunity to talk with Elvis about his career, his future, and the development of mixed martial arts as a sport itself.
MMA on Tap: Let’s start off with the easy question - How did you get your fantastic nickname?
Sinosic: Having a name like Elvis it’s not hard to guess. Basically around the time of my first pro fight, I think one of the commentators coined the term “The King of Rock n Rumble”. It’s pretty much stuck ever since.
MMA on Tap: Mixed Martial Arts is obviously becoming extremely popular worldwide. You started out in your native country of Australia. How much has the sport grown since you were first exposed to it up until now?
Sinosic: The sport has been growing slowly. There have been ups and downs. The ball has started rolling again and hopefully it will continue to grow. With the UFC back on cable here down under hopefully the exposure will continue to push our local MMA organizations forward.
MMA on Tap: One thing that many fans out there might not know about you is that you are pretty accomplished in BJJ. With that being said, the majority of your fights have usually been spent standing up. Is there any reason for that? Trying to keep the fight exciting for the fans?
Sinosic: Yes, that is correct - I am a Machado BJJ Black Belt. Actually my fights have probably been fairly even standing and on the ground. I have won most of my fights with submissions. My last two were from armbars, one from guard and the other from mount. I have the ability to take the fight anywhere, standing or on the ground. I can knock you out or submit you. I think that’s one of the reasons for my popularity.
MMA on Tap: Well said. If you don’t mind let’s dive into the career a little bit. You started out in Australian Ultimate Fighting and Vale Tudo tournaments - What were things like back then? There were no governing bodies so were things sort of like the early UFC’s - no rules, anything goes?
Sinosic: The early days were very simple. The rules were no biting, eye gouging or fish hooking. Everything else went, elbows, knees & kicks on the ground, stomps, head butts. It was very raw and exciting. You really had to be prepared for everything. But on the flip side, back then most people weren’t as well cross-trained or versed in other styles as they are today. Also the majority of the fighters weren’t as well conditioned as today.
The sport was still new; it was all a learning experience for us. But look at what it has given us today. Probably the greatest and most exciting sport out there, MMA!
MMA on Tap: Your first big fight against an elite fighter was against Frank Shamrock in K-1. You went the distance with him and lost a decision. Do you think that fight was a big reason why the UFC invited you to fight in their organization?
Sinosic: Depends what you define as elite. Before that I had also fought Dave Beneteau to a draw and lost a match to Kiyoshi Tamura. Frank was my first test against a great world champion. It was an awesome opportunity back then to face a competitor of his talent and standing. Yes, I do believe going the distance with Frank, after he had stopped all of his other opponents so dominantly, played a role in me being invited to the UFC. It created some history as my first opponent in the UFC was Jeremy Horn. He had lost to Frank by submission. At that point he was the number one contender to the title and after this fight was to face Tito Ortiz. His original opponent had pulled out due to injury so they were looking for an opponent that would take the fight on short notice and create a bit of a storyline.
Elvis Sinosic controls Shamoji Fujii on the ground.
MMA on Tap: So you submit Jeremy Horn in your debut fight at UFC 30. One win in the UFC and already you get a title shot against Tito Ortiz at UFC 32. Talk about being thrust into such a big spot so quickly. Can you share your thoughts on the experience?
Sinosic: It was an amazing time for me. I got a short notice fight with Jeremy. It was a match that nobody thought I could win. Even Frank had warned me against fighting Jeremy prior to that. So being able to take the fight, debut in the UFC and win by submission, was amazing. Interestingly after the fight when we watched Tito fight, my coach and I agreed that I would need a few more fights under my belt before I faced Tito as he was such a dominant fighter at the time. But when the UFC called me up and said, “Hey we need an opponent to face Tito for the World Title”, I didn’t hesitate in accepting. I knew it was a big jump, but I also knew it was an opportunity that I could not pass up. It was a real roller coaster ride, but an amazing experience nonetheless.
MMA on Tap: You ended up losing to Ortiz because of a cut, another loss because of a cut happened after that against Evan Tanner, and your third loss in a row was a decision that didn’t go your way against Renato Sobral. Three losses in a row in the UFC resulted in your contract not being renewed. How hard was it to come back after that? What motivated you?
Sinosic: It was difficult after that. I really felt I had the ability to beat those guys, but just was not able to make it happen. At that point I realized that if I was going to fight I needed to do it properly. I was working full time, teaching, training for a fight and trying to have a life. I just had too much on my plate. So I decided I would not fight again until I could train and focus for my fights properly. I ended up quitting my job and opening up my own academy with good friend and training partner Anthony Perosh. Finally with the support and training available to me I was able to get back into fighting again. I then won my next match by armbar, so I was back into the game.
MMA on Tap: You went ahead and fought in some of the smaller shows around the world, went 2-1-1 and the UFC came calling once again. Can you describe the feeling you had once you knew you were back where you wanted to be?
Sinosic: Excitement. That feeling of being home again. I love the UFC. It is awesome so it was great to be invited back. I knew that if I just kept fighting, improving and winning it would only be a matter of time before I was invited back. It definitely paid off.
MMA on Tap: Losses to Forrest Griffin and Alessio Sakara followed and once again you are out of the UFC. Was it more of a disappointment for you to return and then not perform well or did you use it as motivation? Did you tell yourself that you needed to improve and you would be back?
Sinosic: With the Forrest fight I was actually happy with my performance, I felt I fought very well, I just happened to get caught and the match was stopped prematurely. Though I was disappointed with the result, I was still happy with my performance, even if I did throw my game plan out the window. With the Sakara fight, I was happy with neither the performance nor the result. There were external factors which affected my preparation for this match and it made me realize that I could not continue to fight at this level and come in anything short of 100%. These results motivated me to improve, they also gave me the knowledge of what I needed to do.
MMA on Tap: You last fought in December - a win over Mark Epstein at Cage Rage 19. You submitted him pretty quickly. Was taking the fight to the ground part of your original game plan?
Sinosic: Yes it was. I was happy to trade with him, but my goal was to take him down and submit him. It was the same game plan I had for Forrest, but threw out the window during the match. I have the ability to stand and trade or go to the ground. I like to think I am a well-rounded fighter. My opponent never knows what to expect. My fight prior to that was against Pride veteran Katsuhisa Fuji who I submitted in about the same amount of time, around 2 1/2 minutes, also with an armbar, but this time from guard. You never know if I will KO you standing, take you down and submit you, or if you take me down, submit you from guard.
MMA on Tap: How did Cage Rage treat you during your time over there? Anyway you can update us on your status with the organization?
Sinosic: Cage Rage treated me very well. I think they are a great MMA show. I hope they continue to grow and succeed. I am on good terms with them as I think they are a great bunch of people, hopefully they feel the same way about me. Hopefully one day I will fight for them again, or even bring one of my own fighters over.
Elvis Sinosic after his fight with Mark Epstein at Cage Rage 19.
MMA on Tap: Let’s talk more about the UFC. We recently heard that you signed a new contract with the company? Can you give us any details on it?
Sinosic: At the moment it’s just your standard 3-fight contract. I am currently just waiting for a bout agreement to come through for my next fight. Looks like it may be at UFC 70, which is in the UK. But until contracts are signed it’s still all up in the air as to when and where I will fight next and whom I will face.
MMA on Tap: Your overall record in the UFC is 1-5 yet they still keep inviting you back to compete time and time again. Have you thought about their reasoning at all? About what makes them interested in you?
Sinosic: I don’t really think too much about it. I would say probably because I face tough competition outside of the UFC and continue to win. Also when I fight, I fight to win, I don’t fight to not lose. I’m a move forward, aggressive fighter that pushes the match. Also because I have the ability to win from any position, it doesn’t matter who I face, the match will always be exciting as I can win from anywhere. So you just never know what’s going to happen.
MMA on Tap: The UFC recently announced the addition of a brand new division over in the United Kingdom as you already pointed out. Do you have any interest in competing in some of the additional events over in Europe if you are given the chance?
Sinosic: I’ve fought in Europe before, the UK and Sweden, and loved it. The fans are great, the venues are great. Why wouldn’t I want to fight over there? Also, because I’m used to fighting across the globe I don’t have any issues with jet lag or time differences that a lot of fighters might have who have not experienced that kind of thing. So I have no problems fighting anywhere in the world.
MMA on Tap: If things don’t work out with the UFC, have you thought about trying some of the newer promotions in the United States like BodogFight and the IFL?
Sinosic: I’m always interested in fighting and facing the best fighters in the world. If I hadn’t been picked up by the UFC, I wouldn’t have any issues fighting for other organizations.
MMA on Tap: Speaking about the IFL - What if they decided to have a team based out of Australia? Would you jump on that opportunity?
Sinosic: I actually had tried to contact the IFL about setting up an Australian team a while back, but they never got back to me. I would love to see a team out of Australia. We have some great fighters over here who deserve international recognition. Hopefully the IFL will get this happening one day.
MMA on Tap: Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts Academy - a great school run by yourself and Anthony Perosh in Australia. How exactly did you meet up with Anthony and when did you decide to start a school together?
Sinosic: Anthony and I met at the start of ‘96 when we were both training Machado BJJ in Sydney, under Anthony Lange. We became training partners and then friends. Back then we used to dream about one day opening up our own academy. Anthony went overseas and trained with Carlos Machado for several years, but we still stayed in touch. When he got back, we started training together again and continued our friendship. The opportunity came to take over someone else’s BJJ classes so we took the opportunity to fulfill a dream. We decided we wanted to do more so we began looking for a full time location. On May 13, 2002 we opened up our first full time location, Sinosic-Perosh Martial Arts in Concord. We also now have two other locations, one in Liverpool and one in Maitland. Hopefully we will have more open up in the not too distant future. You can find out all about it at http://www.spma.net.au
MMA on Tap: Have you thought about expanding the Academy at all? We know it’s already turned into multiple schools in Australia - What about expanding to another country or something of that nature?
Sinosic: Absolutely. I believe we have a great system in place. Looking at international options is something that is on our agenda. Hopefully it is all just a matter of time.
MMA on Tap: Do you have anything else you would like to accomplish before you end your MMA career?
Sinosic: I would love to claim a World Title. Then again, isn’t the goal of every fighter out there? Always striving to be the best. I would also like to produce my own MMA Champions. We have some great prospects at our gym and hopefully they will one day climb the MMA ladder and surpass what I have achieved.
MMA on Tap: What about regrets?
Sinosic: No, I have no regrets. I do know I could have done things better. I try not to regret anything, I would much rather learn from my mistakes and make it better for the future.
MMA on Tap: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans or sponsors out there?
Sinosic: Absolutely. First and foremost I’d like to thank my friend and training partner Anthony Perosh for all he has done. He has helped me to continue to improve and strive for my goals. I’d like to thank all my friends, training partners and students for continuing to support me. I’d like to thank my sponsors - Fairtex, Atama and Interact Health and Fitness for continuing to stand by me. I would also like to thank all my fans who have continued to cheer for me through thick and thin. It is their support that inspires me to want to achieve more. I want to thank my girl for believing in me.
We would like to thank Elvis Sinosic for doing this interview with us. Special thanks also goes out to David Singer as well…
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