Saad Awad tests skills with Chris Gonzalez at Bellator 273 on January 29th. This lightweight bout transpires at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, and broadcasts on Showtime.
I spoke with Saad Awad ahead of this fight and excerpts from our chat are below.
Being a homeowner for just a bit over a year now
“I wish it would have happened before but I mean, nothing really happens as planned in life. You kind of take it and go. I’m happy to finally be a homeowner and not a renter. I’m gonna just add more things to my plate. So it’s nonstop here at home, just like nonstop here at training.”
Overall thoughts on his first-round win over Nate Andrews at Bellator 259
“Yeah, it felt really good. Obviously, I was in a horrible position. Never been in that position in my life and with my career. So it was pretty emotional for me to go in there and be able to get the win the way I did. And to get out there unscathed. I had a little cut but I was back training right away. Just hungry to get it again. So I’m happy that they finally booked me. And things are starting to get busier for Bellator. Just happy to be back on the roster and fighting again.”
The competitive benefit of feeling like one’s back is against the wall ala Saad Awad’s fight with Evangelista Santos
“100% believe so. I do think I had to learn the hard way. Obviously, I do thrive under pressure and when my back is against the wall. Because I think it goes with my fighting style. Where I kind of have always been just a hard-nosed gritty fighter. I kind of just bite down on my mouthpiece and go. I think having my back against the wall really brings out the old school me. Where I just basically don’t give a fuck and I’m just gonna go in there. I’m going to do what I have to do to get a win. When I am in those situations, that’s exactly what happens. And I love it. I thrive off of it. It is who I am as a fighter foremost as a person as well.”
If Saad Awad is doing tape study on Chris Gonzalez or if that’s allocated to the coaches more so
“Coach always breaks fighters down. Lets me know what he does good and what he does bad. And what we’re going to work on, what we’re not going to work on. What we need to do to win a fight. When I first started out, I didn’t really watch too much tape. Because I always felt like it would impact me negatively. I had a different thought on it in the first couple years of my career.”
“Kind of switched that around and started doing a lot more tape, figuring things out. I broke the kid down. And I’ve seen him fight before. When they first offered him to me, I wasn’t sure who he was. Then I went back and I was like, why does that name sound familiar? So I googled him real quick.”
“I was like, Oh, it’s that wrestler kid from (Team) Alpha Male. So I remembered him being a prospect and coming up. So I started watching his tape and I remember watching his Goiti (Yamauchi) fight. Because I fought Goiti. So I like to see who he fights after and how things go. I remember watching that fight. So I was like, man, I really have to pay attention if I’m going to fight this guy.”
“Because I accepted right away but I was like let me go back and watch the tape. Started finding some of his old fights and looking up his wrestling. Seeing things he does good, things he does bad. I think he’s very green. He has a skill set to be really good. I think it’s going to be a good fight for both of us.”
The concept of a 165 lb weight division becoming a broadly instantiated weight category in MMA
“I like it because where I stand is I’ve always been a bigger lightweight. I’ve always been like a smaller welterweight. So I think I would sit perfectly with the 165 lb division. Thank God from the experience, I’m able to keep my weight in control. I eat really good year-round. I’m not one of those guys that blow up to 200 pounds and get back down.”
“I used to blow up to like 190 when I first started my career. Then after years of training and fighting, I started keeping my weight around a certain weight. Yeah, like I can make weight in two days. Usually any time around the year. Unless you catch me right after a fight and I’m like, I’m gonna cheat a little bit for the next few weeks. But even then I’m still pretty light.”
“My diet’s on point, my wife cooks awesome. She makes sure I don’t put anything bad in my body. And even when I want to cheat like I don’t have stuff here to cheat. I’ll cheat a little bit here and there but she got me down when it comes to nutrition. Taking care of myself and thank God. Because if not, I’d probably be one of those guys walking around 190. And God knows how hard it would be for me to make weight. So I make weight fairly easy.”
“And being a bigger ’55 pounder but still, nobody likes to cut weight. So if they offered me a fight at a catchweight, I’ll take it. I don’t give a shit. I fought (Paul) Daley at 175. Weight classes to me, there’s a reason why there are weight classes and that’s a stupid jump to go up that high. But if it’s two guys that can make lightweight. And we both agree to fight at 165, why not? If they call me tomorrow and say Chris wants to fight at 165, I’d be like let’s do it. You know, it’s not a big deal to me. I’ll make 165 tonight if I wanted to. But yeah, I wouldn’t mind it.”
Reflecting on moments throughout his decade-plus pro career as Saad Awad carves out new memories
“Yeah, of course, I mean every once in a while something will pop up. It’s like oh, this is a fight from 2006 or 2008 or whatever. And I’ll go back and remember how my training camp went. Start thinking about how my diet was. I’m like, Oh man, I had a shitty weight cut for that fight. I remember I used to eat pasta all the time and taking IVs. I was wondering why I would go out there and be just slow and sluggish. It all comes with experience.”
“Things that you can’t really buy. You can try to teach people experience. But you never really get it until you’ve been there and you went through it. And I’m thankful for everything I went through. I feel like I’ve taken the long route in my career with everything I’ve done. But I’m thankful for it. It just sucks that I’m getting older and I have all this experience now. Because had I had this experience when I was in my 20s, things would have been a lot different in my career.”
Parting thoughts for Saad Awad
“I just wanna say thank you, man. Thank you for your time. Always appreciate it and don’t let me rush you. I’ve got time. Everything will work out at the end of the day, no matter what you’re doing, right. So I just want to say thank you for your time as well. It’s always good to talk to you. I’m definitely looking forward to this fight. I think it’s gonna be awesome. I think I go out there and show my skill set against a really tough wrestler, young, hungry kid. And I’m excited. I think this is a good fight for where I’m at right now in my career. I think after this fight, we can look forward and see what’s next. Until then, I’m excited to go out there get this win.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.