“Psycho” Karl Amoussou (12-3-2) entered the lion’s den of European MMA with three first-round submission wins that earned him the honor of cutting his teeth in the ranks of the world famous M-1 Global promotion. Toting an 8-2 record within the organization, of which only two bouts saw the judges, Amoussou’s explosive style and finishing power established him as a fan favorite and a powerhouse amongst European fighters. In August 2009 the Frenchman made his US debut also under the M-1 banner in the promotion’s first ever live televised event in the United States, M-1 Global: Breakthrough. Despite disposing of his opponent John Doyle (9-16) in impressive fashion via first-round Rear Naked Choke, the Judo black belt Amoussou still went relatively unnoticed in the landscape of US MMA.
Six months later in February 2010, Amoussou entered the Strikeforce cage against South African fighter Trevor Prangley (23-7) in a bout that many believed the more experienced Prangley would dominate. Against Prangley, Amoussou showed that he’s no pushover. He got the better exchanges and was picking Prangley apart until he received an accidental eye poke and consequently was unable to see or continue the fight. The match was ruled a Draw and despite his commanding performance, the memory of all but the outcome faded in many fans’ minds.
Amoussou would not compete again on American soil until May 21 at Bellator 45. The main card feature fight pitted the 25-year-old M-1 veteran and undercover police officer against King of the Cage veteran “Smiling” Sam Alvey (13-2) for a spot in the Bellator Season 5 Middleweight Tournament. After a three-round battle in which “Psycho” arguably dominated at least 10 of the 15 minutes, two out of the bout’s three judges gave the nod to Alvey and sent Amoussou back to France without a spot in Bellator’s upcoming 185lbs. tournament.
MMA Gospel staff writer Cole Moorman recently interviewed the “Psycho” in hopes of turning the American eye to the bright future of Karl Amoussou.
What is your background in martial arts, particularly in respect to your Judo and Savate experience? Other than being a black belt in Judo, do you hold rank in any other disciplines?
“I’ve got 20 years Judo experience; I started it when I was three-and-a-half years old. About Savate, I’ve never trained in this sport but I’ve often read it about me. It’s wrong information. I also train a lot in Muay Thai since four years and I’ve improved a lot in my striking since. I don’t hold a rank in that discipline because when I’m not working, my whole time is for MMA and there’s no time left for trainings in other sports.”
At your homeland in France, you’re an undercover police officer. In what ways, if any, do your professions as fighter and law enforcer intertwine?
“Well it’s very complicated to do both. I work at night til 3am, go to sleep around 4 or 5am, and as soon as I get up I go to the gym, and then from the gym directly to work. So it’s a very hard rhythm and I’ve no time left for anything else. When I have to fight, I take my vacations; I’ve absolutely no support from my work. It’s unfortunately like this in France.”
The bulk of your MMA career thus far had been spent fighting in Europe, namely with the M-1 promotion. What do you think are the primary differences between North American and European MMA?
“I think US MMA is really more professional but you have also bigger pressure because you can sometimes get fired after only one loss. The biggest difference is with the fans; the American fans are just amazing. I really like American people and the way they are. I would love to live and train in the US in the close future.”
In what key ways has your fight game changed since turning pro in 2006? Are there any particular aspects that you are working to improve or expand?
“Well at my beginning I was a very fast finisher and my style was extremely aggressive but I had this style without much stand-up technique. I would say last year was my transition year to perfect my style. I was trying to be more technical than aggressive and I lost a bit of my aggressiveness. This year I managed to put everything together to be a more complete fighter with my aggressive style and a really higher technical level with good escapes. I’m still going to improve a lot more.”
You’re a very dynamic fighter. To what do you attribute such a diverse skill set?
“It’s my style and my personality to be this way. I’ve always been bored watching lay-and-pray or MMA wrestling fights, so I have to give fans explosive and exciting fights.”
What three words best describe you’re fighting style?
“Aggressive, explosive, spectacular.”
Are there any fighters that influence you? If so, who and why?
“Wanderlei Silva, Quinton Jackson, and Anderson Silva for their important charisma, their fighting style, and the show they bring in every fight.”
Having stopped 10 of your 18 opponents – more than half in the first round – you’re known as a finisher and not someone who plays it safe. Describe your approach to your fights once the cage door closes.
“I absolutely don’t care about being hit by an opponent and when I step in the cage it’s to finish the guy who faces me. I like to exchange in the stand-up and I’m always looking for the most spectacular KO. I know fans expect that so I try to please them.”
Three of your four losses have come via decision. Do you think that your aggressive approach leaves openings that sometimes hurt you on the judges’ score cards?
“I don’t think so because I’m the aggressor. When you watch my last fight I really hadn’t been touched a lot. That’s what I was saying about my new fighting style; now I’m able to be an aggressor and being touched less. About my last fight, nobody other than two judges saw me losing it. I think I landed 20 elbows, 40 kicks… And got punched maybe 10 times. So if you are a judge you can’t give me the loss.”
Your staredown is no joke. What goes through your mind the first time you come face-to-face with your opponent?
“I want to read my opponent’s eyes. That gives me the first information about how the fight will be. My staredown is the first step of my fights.”
Against Sam Alvey, you seemed to have a significant advantage in both size and strength. Do you find that is often the case in your fights? What is your approximate walk-around weight?
“I don’t think I had a size advantage. In the cage I was 188 pounds which is also my walk-around weight. I’m not cutting weight, or if I do, it’s a maximum 4-5lbs.”
Do you do a lot of strength and conditioning training along with your weekly routine?
“Absolutely no body building but I do of course do conditioning.”
What was your game plan taking on “Smiling” Sam?
“I had not much information about him so my game plan was to implement maximum kicks to create an opening and then land punches.”
Your Bellator Season 5 Middleweight Tournament prequalifying bout at Bellator 45 was a hard fought three-round battle that yielded results surprising to many. What did you expect the judges’ score cards to read in the end? How do you feel about the decision?
“I clearly got robbed. First round should have been 10-8, then 10-9 and 10-9 again. Three rounds for me. In every round I was the aggressor; I landed the most kicks and punches and also the hardest ones. He was in my guard three times on the ground but never touched me. In the last 10 seconds on the ground he sent punches but only one or two touched me. I made the whole fight. Everybody knows that I won the fight but in one month nobody will remember and people will just read that I had a loss and that’s bad.”
If you were granted a rematch, what would or wouldn’t you do differently?
“I would have to finish him fast because I don’t trust the judges. Or maybe should I lay-and-pray during three rounds and wait for the decision?”
What do you plan on undertaking now in your career? Where can fans look forward to seeing you next?
“I hope to get a fight back in Bellator.”
Anything you would like to add, or anyone you want to thank?
“I would thank the Bellator team for having given me my chance; I’ll be back and won’t disappoint you. I also thank my Fans in France and in the US. I really love the States and the American people and it’s hard for me to go back to France after every stay in the US. I also want to thank my sponsors Clinch Gear, Lexani and Gamma-O. I’ll be back in action soon and even stronger.”