With a 2-1 record this year factoring into a 7-2 overall record, Legacy FC bantamweight Joshua “Gremlin” Sampo has been making positive headway as he continues to grow as a fighter.
“It was a rollercoaster, but for the most part it’s gone pretty well,” said Sampo looking back over 2012. “Even though I didn’t get the victory in my May fight with Will Campuzano, I still feel it showed me a lot about myself and where I can compete with some of the upper level guys.”
Sampo will get an equally tough test in his next bout when he faces veteran UFC and WEC veteran Antonio Banuelos at Legacy FC 14 on Friday night in Houston, which airs live on AXS TV.
“When I first saw him on the Tapout show and fighting in the WEC, I always knew he’d been an individual I’d love to fight,” said Sampo of Banuelos.
“I like his style, what he brings to the table, plus he’s got a good name behind him and experience, so the fact that they even considered me for this fight was a blessing. I’m ready to get in there and mix it up with him.”
When asked how he feels he matches up with Banuelos, Sampo told MMAWeekly.com, “I think we’re pretty evenly matched across the board.
“I think I probably have better jiu-jitsu on the ground and in the submission game, but it’s going to be a lot of work to try to get him in that position. He’s a big counterpuncher from what I’ve noticed, but from the competition I’ve faced in Mauy Thai, it’s given me the experience to be able to stand in there and trade with him.”
Sampo feels that even though this is the biggest opportunity he’s had so far in his career, he’s not going to let it get to him. If anything, he feels the weight of expectations falls more on Banuelos’ shoulders.
“I think they’ve already signed him to a multi-fight deal with Legacy, so it’s almost like they’re counting me out, which I don’t mind being the underdog,” said Sampo. “Me beating him can really catapult my career, whereas if he beats me, it’s just another notch on his belt.
“The pressure’s more on him because he needs to get back in the win column after that loss in Japan (against Bibano Fernandes in Dream). Definitely there’s no pressure on me – other than the pressure to give it all I’ve got – so I think the pressure is more on him than me because he’s got more to lose.”
Sampo further stated that even though he’s not putting pressure on himself for the fight, he does acknowledge that in the long run, it could very well set the stage for the next step in his career.
“I don’t want to bank everything on this one fight, it’s just the next fight in my career, and I’m just taking them one at a time,” he said. “Still, if I look further on, it can really help my career.
“Getting the win in the fight could possibly give me a shot in one of the bigger leagues. I try not to focus on that. I’ve still got to get in the cage, still have to fight and then let it work itself all out.”
(Photo courtesy of Joshua Sampo)