UFC Fight Night 30 middleweight Michael Kuiper made his push into mixed martial arts with a strong judo background. But it’s been the Dutch fighter’s knockout power that has really made his name.
With more than half of his wins coming by way of knockout or TKO, Kuiper comes into this Saturday’s UFC card with a drive to continue his trend of knocking opponents out. Kuiper told MMAWeekly.com that his next foe in the Octagon, Brad Scott, has questioned the Dutchman’s power leading into this fight. All that has done, he said, is further fueled the passion of finishing yet another fight.
“Brad said in an interview that I have, ‘baby strikes,’” Kuiper said. “I plan to KO him with my ‘baby strikes’ in Manchester.”
MMAWeekly.com: What would you say is the most interesting quality about you as a fighter?
Michael Kuiper: I would have to say my judo background, as there have not been a lot of judokas that have successfully transitioned to the UFC. Also, I always push to finish fights. I never want to leave it in the hands of the judges.
MMAWeekly.com: Is fighting a full-time job for you or do you do other jobs on the side to earn income and pay bills?
Michael Kuiper: No, there is no time to work. I am 100-percent invested in fighting and training 8 days a week and 25 hours a day.
MMAWeekly.com: Now that you’re going into your fourth fight in the UFC, have you seen a noticeable difference between your lifestyle before and now?
Michael Kuiper: The biggest difference is my level of training has gone up. I train twice a day and watch my food seriously. So my lifestyle has changed for the better. I am evolving as a martial artist. My mindset has also changed. I feel more driven to train and progress in my career.
MMAWeekly.com: This is your second fight for the promotion in Europe. How meaningful is it for you to fight near your home country of the Netherlands?
Michael Kuiper: I think it makes training more fluid and convenient. But outside of the training, it means a lot to be able to make a contribution in my own way to the expansion of MMA in Europe. We are all doing this together, and I like representing my country for all of the fans.
MMAWeekly.com: It’s clear that fighting near your home country gives you an opportunity to have family, friends and local fans come and see you live, but how important is it for you to transition over to the American market and fight more regularly in the United States?
Michael Kuiper: It is important to attract American fans as it is the largest market for the UFC, and we also work around the USA broadcast times. But, from what I have seen, the Americans are very welcoming and they embrace good fighters wherever they may come from. Other Dutch fighters have been successful in the UFC such as Stefan Struve and Gegard Mousasi because they make entertaining fights. The key is to make exciting fights. I really appreciate the American fans a lot.
MMAWeekly.com: Beyond his loss to Robert Whittaker, have you seen much of your opponent Brad Scott’s career? What do you know about him?
Michael Kuiper: He keeps a strong pace and has good boxing. He is a tough guy like all the fighters in the UFC. However, I believe I am the better and superior fighter.
MMAWeekly.com: If there’s one clear advantage that you think you have over Brad Scott, what is it?
Michael Kuiper: I think I have better grappling and power striking. Brad said in an interview that I have, “baby strikes.” I plan to KO him with my “baby strikes” in Manchester.
MMAWeekly.com: Is there an advantage you think he might have and what have you done to prepare for it?
Michael Kuiper: I don’t believe he has an advantage in this fight. I have trained very hard to give him an impossible fight.
MMAWeekly.com: They say that two fighters coming off losses who are fighting on the undercard are in danger of losing their jobs in the UFC if they lose their next fight. Is that a concern for you heading into this bout? How does a fighter deal with that kind of thing potentially hanging over them?
Michael Kuiper: I focus on what I have control over. I am always motivated to fight and win. That will be the case whether I am coming off of a win or loss. What I can control is my mind and my body, and that is my focus.
MMAWeekly.com: What can fans expect to see from you when you fight Brad Scott at UFC Fight Night 30?
Michael Kuiper: I plan to win this with a knockout, hopefully, Knockout of the Night.