Ep. #111 – Sasha Palatnikov

Sasha Palatnikov is a mixed martial artist who competes in thre Welterweight division of the UFC. The fighter from Hong Kong will be the first ever from the region to compete for the organization when he competes at UFC 255 on November 21.


Sasha Palatnikov: All right, we are back with the 111th uh edition of the quarantine cast. I’M uh. I have uh sasha palitnikov. I think i pronounced that correctly uh. He just got signed to the ufc uh he’ll be competing at ufc, 256, 255, 255 um against louis cosey. So i’ve been a fan of his for a while, so uh without further ado, i’m gon na have him come on. Hey man how’s it going hey how you doing sergio. Did i butcher your name a little bit palatnikov you’re close pull out nikov? What’S the origins of that? Oh russian, russian, oh okay, my father, so uh! So man how you doing with the pandemic and everything that’s going on. How have you uh have been holding up uh, pretty good man? It’S been a roller coaster year. That’S for sure um, ups and downs. Let’S put it that way. I had surgery at the beginning of this year, um and then covet hit, and then i was like what’s gon na happen, and you know i didn’t think fighting would be an option this year when once coveted once kovac, you know, came and everything was kind of Shut down locked down even here in las vegas um, you know, but i just kept working just kept kept getting back into my recovery, trying to get back in shape. Just in case anything you know did come up and you know september. I was able to fly out to dubai and uh, even with what was going on in the world. It was uh. It was a great opportunity to go out there and just uh put on a show, and fortunately i was able to get out there quickly in the first round and finish my opponent and get myself back here. Got myself. Uh got myself management uh. Due to that win, and two weeks after that, we got that ufc contract. So you know i could have never never uh. I could have never predicted it this way, but i had like a little like kind of side bet with a friend of mine. I was like yeah, i’m thinking. 20. 21. Like six, you know halfway into 2021. I think i’ll get i’ll get into the ufc, but um. I’M just so much happier that i’m here right now and i’m still kind of taking in the taking in taking it all in i’m not like 100, like believing that i’m actually in the usc right now. But it’s day by day, the interviews that i’m doing the i just entered the usada testing pool. So it’s like it’s becoming a reality and uh. I’M just excited and i’m just happy that my goals are uh are being reached. So how did you get the news that uh you know there was an offer on the table from the ufc and it was a multi-fight deal um, like i said i basically um after my fight in uh dubai, i was talking with a couple of management companies. A couple couple companies that reached out to me and and the one that i’d been most uh most in contact with was daniel rubenstein, with ruby sports and entertainment and uh. He was uh. You know he was well. You know. Well, spoken of people were saying good things about him and i have some mutual friends who are actually represented by him. So um, i just wanted to kind of speak to a few people, see what they thought and they told me the only good thing. So we signed that contract and um we’ve been discussing. Look when when am i going to be fighting and he said, look we’re going to try to get you a fight as soon as possible and we weren’t even talking ufc. We were just trying to talk any fight, any situation that would come up. Let’S fight um and it was when was it it was like last it was on tuesday um. I got a text message from him and he was like hey. You want to fight on the ufc on the 21st. I said: hey, let’s do it, so that’s it. I mean i’m a guy. I’Ve taken i’ve taken flights on five days notice with a torn meniscus like i’m, the guy, that’s gaming, the fight, no matter what so, when an opportunity like this comes along, i’m not gon na say no, so i’m just happy that it came along. You know sometimes just got ta be the right place right time, but um, but yeah, i’m ready for this. I’M on i’m on a bit of a momentum right now, a bit of a roll. So i’m feeling good and i’m ready to go in there and uh. Keep it going, you were scheduled uh to fight, i think, on the 28th, was it uh, yeah so kind of describe what the uh the turnaround is. I mean completely different opponent, complete change of game plans and everything, um kind of describe the emotion when uh. When you got the news, okay, your different opponent, um, you know i, the beauty of this sport is uh. I don’t really worry too much about what my opponent brings. It’S it’s it’s it’s what i bring to the cage and then how i have to adapt sure i know i look at their fights. I like to see what what they’re good at, but at the same time they have to solve me. I’M a puzzle that needs to be solved in order for them to be successful, so um, you know of all fights. I fought regard regard regardless of my losses. I’Ve i’ve always had uh. I’Ve had people in situations where they felt very uncomfortable, especially standing um, and it’s usually the same equation. I hit you a couple times and then you don’t like it and then you try to take me down and i’ve been training. My whole life to keep it standing and uh you take me down. I’M i’m able to get right back up or put you on your back, so i’ve been training in every facet of this game for over 12 years. So this is something that i’ve just been on. You know i’m a hong kong, kid people don’t know me so i’ve been putting in the work and and any fight that comes any opportunity that comes i’m ready for it um and look change of opponents. Five days. Two days, one day it you just got ta, be ready, it’s it’s a mental thing and if you’re mentally ready to go you’re gon na get get in there and get the result done uh, regardless of what the opponent change or what style they bring. He said people don’t know you do you think that’s uh, that’s favorable. Do you think that benefits you the fact that people aren’t familiar with you? Maybe they are overlooking you yeah, i’m sure, i’m sure going into this fight, i’m probably most likely going to be the betting underdog. So if you want to make some money you know but uh you know i i just uh. I just think coming in from a place like hong kong, no one i mean the average person probably doesn’t even know where it is on the map. So just the fact that i can come in and represent my city and and let people know who i am is – is an honor and just so. People can get a taste to get to get a good little site of what. What i bring um is is is something that i’ve always been working towards day. In doubt, i’ve been in this game for a while, now and uh. You know i’m 31 years old, so i’m about to just start hitting my prime and start hitting my career um. I’M excited i mean, i know, people don’t like people that grab them and hold them and try to just ragdoll and decision people. I’M gon na go in there and try to finish people. I’M gon na go in there and put hands on people and i think that’s what people like to see um. I have a dynamic style. So if people enjoy that, then i’m hoping you know they’re going to want to follow me and support me and going forward we’re just going to slowly take over what does it mean to you to be able to carry that flag on your back you’re? The first person ever to compete in the ufc uh from hong kong. What does that mean to you? It means the world it’s huge. I represented hong kong in rugby and basketball at the junior levels and um. You know i i you know. Hong kong is home. No matter what anybody says to me: uh i was born and raised there. I went to high school there. I went to primary school there. You know i did everything in hong kong so um, you know it’s a complete honor and then to be the first person to to wear that that flag into the cage – and you know just just to highlight hong kong like just even if it’s you know five People are like, oh, i didn’t even know about hong kong and they find out something about it. That’S awesome, you know, that’s what i want. I want to put hong kong on the map and then also open up the avenue to other fighters in hong kong yeah. We have uh, we have prospects coming up now that you know in the next couple of years, you’ll probably start to see so um. I want to be that pioneer. I won my first uh championship, title back in 2019 and that was like the first ever in hong kong history as well. So like i’m, just i’m just ready to keep on. You know breaking history, putting putting my name in the history books and then hopefully i can uh. You know motivate young young fighters that are coming out of hong kong to just keep working, because it’s it’s a hard process i mean fighting is is one of the hardest sports in the world. In my opinion, especially when you don’t have support um, so you just got ta be you know you just got ta be gritty and just got ta be motivated to just continue working day in and day out and um, and if i can just give people a Little bit of motivation to keep that going. Then hey. That’S, that’s! That’S a win for me. How does one uh pursue a career in mma uh in hong kong like it just doesn’t seem you know when you think mma, you think brazil um united states, canada, even hong kong is one of the last places that you think of when you talk mma. How does one pursue that career? I mean first in, like you, could i mean hong kong? Has the system built there where you can compete amateur um? You can fight regionally uh. Obviously, now it’s a little bit harder with kovid, but you know usually they have amateur tournaments shootout tournaments. They have all kinds of tournaments where you can have guys being developed, and you know hong kong is a has like the the tendency to have smaller weight classes. Me being 170 pounder, 185 pounder, i’m like a heavyweight in that region, but um, but you know there’s a lot of guys in the like 35 45 region that are really talented, really athletic. Kids and you know for them. It’S tough because you know to be able to train full-time and then also work, and you know you know you got your social life. You know these things. These things you have to sacrifice. Uh, you know not going out not having a social life is like one of the biggest things that you have to eliminate. If you want to really pursue this crew, this kind of career and then you just got to jump on opportunities, i mean, like you, said hong kong isn’t known to have you know, mma shows or big fights. So if events do come up, you know these guys have got to jump on them and and if they don’t, then they’re going to be left behind and – and you know just just for me to be that person – that’s kind of i i mean i’ve had i’ve Supported myself, uh six fights through my professional career. Until i got management and um, you know, i just was consistently like pushing myself daily questioning like, should i be doing this like because you know i’ve invested so much in myself, but at the same time, this is what i love to do. Um. You know. I have a computer science major, i i was working in it um, so this was not. This was not like my end-all deal like. I could be sitting on a computer and keeping my face nice and pretty you know so um. But i love what i do. I love fighting and it’s just it’s something that i believe i was born to do and um and i’ve never really shied away from it. Injuries uh. You know all the kind of things that you would expect to experience. Uh i’ve just kind of just said: hey. Let’S just get past it, it’s just something that we can overcome and then just keep going forward. You made a huge sacrifice, sacrifice back in december and you you moved to syndicate mma. What is that done for your career and describe the biggest change this past year? Oh man, it was the biggest thing it was a big move to make um. So i was working in hong kong as a as a mma, coach and personal trainer, so you know working that and then also fighting. It was hard to balance, because you know you it’s just it’s. It’S tiring. You know you know being on your feet five six hours a day and then you got ta, also put your training into it. It takes a lot out of you and you know. Fortunately, for me i was working in a gym name uh. It was named hybrid, hybrid mma in hong kong, great gym, great people there and uh. They were really able to support me and help me and uh. You know i was able to win my title in korea and you know i just knew that if i really wanted to go to that next level, i had to make a big investment and um coming to vegas one of my old coaches, neil malanson, who i Used to train with at the blackzilians back in 2016 in florida he was in vegas and we we remain in touch and he was like man. You should come out here. You can stay with me and uh, we’ll get you situated here in vegas and i jumped on that opportunity, and i thought man i i have to do it so packed my bags uh jumped on that plane. One way ticket and um i’ve been here since i was introduced to john wood, the head coach of syndicate, mma, awesome, guy um, he’s he’s, helped me so much. I had a i tore my meniscus after my uh before my last fight and ua warriors uh previously against manila and um coming back into las vegas. I spoke to john and john was able to get me everything i needed to get done for my surgery and um. He was one of the most welcoming people and you know the guys there that i train with a bunch of animals a bunch of ufc fighters, and you know bellator fighters. So it’s just the environment was something that i was used to like when i was training with the blackzilians hong kong. Unfortunately, like i said i was the heavyweight, so i wasn’t really able to get the training partners that i necessarily needed. I would fly people in. I have some friends that were that were staying in in southeast asia. You know, thankfully, for them they’re, really close friends of mine, so i’d bring them in for my camps just because they were my weight or heavier. But you know it’s tough to do that and you can’t always expect that from them, because they also have their lives to live so um coming out to vegas being in syndicate, i loved it. Man like everyone’s like, oh you got to be worried. You know you don’t want to go party, go crazy, that’s not even my thing like i don’t like that at all. I just want to train and i like to go up into the mountains. I like running in the mountains. I, like you, know, i’m a nature. Guy and then when the fight comes, let’s get it, you know, that’s that’s what i i’m excited every time i get in that cage, there’s, never an ounce of nerves or nothing like that. That’S just that’s what makes me happy you know. So i saw the uh. I saw the video of you. I think you posted it today running up in the mountains. It looked like it was. Freezing snow covered mountains. Yes, it was ridiculous where, where, where were you um, so that so literally 25 minutes drive from the las vegas strip? There’S a mountain called potosi mountain and uh. We went up there yesterday i was with my strength and conditioning coach, lorenzo pavlika and his son preston uh with prime time performance there my strength and conditioning guys and uh my pad holder and coach uh matthew, uh pelino, he’s here uh from singapore. I flew him in here and he’s now my roommate, so he’s been a huge part. He was getting me ready for my previous fight in dubai and uh, and you know he was there for my first uh for my first fight in hong kong and like now, he’s gon na be here in my corner for my first fight in the ufc. So it’s pretty epic but um yeah. They were like, let’s go run in the mountains. Again, let’s go get it and all of a sudden. We just finished breakfast and it started raining and he’s like hmm. I think there might be snow in the mountains. I was like that’d be cool. We would go up there and holy smokes. I didn’t expect that much snow i felt like i was in montreal again i used to live in montreal and i was like god, damn yeah, i’m in i’m in halifax canada. So i, if i the less snow, i see the better. I bet i’m sick of snow. I don’t want. I don’t want to live in snow, no more. If i don’t have to oh man, it’s it’s brutal and training in it. It’S awful, like my knees, hurt my elbows hurt all the joints. It’S brutal. It takes forever just to get warmed up in that weather. Right now. Oh man yeah, it’s awful um! I want to talk about your your near manir, liza’s fight um. Is it a little bit bittersweet seeing his success? Was it hard being on the outside? Looking in like oh man, maybe that could have been me um. He had that incredible performance. Um was it. Was that a little bit bittersweet and what’s the biggest lesson you learned from that fight? Well, the munirla zest fight was a really interesting fight because um, like i said, i had a tour meniscus at the time, but i was in training camp in ukraine uh. I was, i was invited out there to work with uh lomachenko and u6 boxing coach, his olympic boxing coach, my dad had contacts out there, so that’s actually my father’s hometown. So the fact that i got an opportunity to go there and see my where my father grew up was huge, but also to go in box was incredible too. I was working with the junior national team a couple of their a couple of their up and coming well supposed to be olympic guys in 2020, but unfortunately they didn’t compete, but i was getting in there getting good rounds in and you know i felt good and I was originally supposed to have a fight that was going to be six weeks uh later in hong kong, so i was like okay, let’s just you know, get in shape and then get ready for this fight in hong kong but um i literally received a phone Call on five days notice and they’re like hey, we have a fight for you, abu dhabi, you want it and i was like hey man. I’Ve never been. I’Ve never had that opportunity to find abu dhabi. Ua wars is a big promotion. It’S up in common um, and i know i i know who that guy was i’ve. Seen his uh i’d been offered him uh previously, but uh. It didn’t work out. Something didn’t work out, but i’ve been given his profile. So i’d seen him before and i was like okay, i understood what he was about he’s a striker um, so i was like okay. Let’S do it, it’s a risk. My dad a couple people around me were like. I think you should get the surgery first and go back, but i was just you know. That’S just me. I just want to get in there and do it. You know i don’t like turning down, because what you know if i turn that down and then i say what, if you know so i went in, i took it. I said: hey, let’s go and um, you know i didn’t even have a corner. I didn’t even have a cup i didn’t even have fight shorts with me, so, like all of these things were all just kind of last minute things put together to fight against someone like munir. You know it’s not exactly the best, but you know that didn’t phase me. I had my my boy matthew fly in from singapore uh. He met me there, so it was like we didn’t really get a lot of time to to get. I guess facilitated but uh going into that fight. I was confident i felt good um, you know, munir is a tough guy. You know don’t get me wrong. He’S a good he’s, a good fighter um, but you know going in there. He was the home crowd guy. We were co-main event, it was very loud in there, it was. It was a great atmosphere, um and you know the i can tell you about the fight going in there. I felt very calm very relaxed and i was moving in there and and i’ve watched uh up until that point. I believe he was seven and one, so he had eight fights, he’d, never ever shot a takedown in his life and it’s any of his fights of those eight fights he’d never shot a takedown. So in my mind i was thought. Okay. This is gon na, be a stand-up fight. So as soon as we start moving around you know i could tell already he was a little bit anxious. He was very tight and he didn’t like the way i was moving um and he shot that first double leg. On me – and i was very surprised, but i got right back up when we got back to work um and you know it was a back and forth fight. Not not not. You know. 50. 50, i would say we, i landed a big shot. He landed a big shot um i took his back and unfortunately, just because i was dealing with the injuries i was dealing with. I just didn’t feel strong on the ground and i just didn’t put in the work that i needed to put in at that point. Uh to be good on the ground and i had control of his back and he just was able to sweep position just so easily and i was just disappointed in myself, but to be honest with you, i’m not a sore loser look uh. He fought good, but that referee stopped that fight early. In my opinion, um, you know i was in half guard protecting myself, bobbing and weaving. There was 12 seconds remaining and the ref called it um. He landed like two elbows through my guard. I was okay. I was there i never felt dazed i never felt hurt. I was a bit shocked, um that they stopped the fight, but at the same time i was respectful because i’m not that kind of person uh who knows at that moment at that. At that time you you don’t know you might have been knocked out. So once i went back and watched the film spoke to my coach. He was like man, you were still there. You were fine like strange, so you know, and then he gets signed by the ufc. I’M like you know, i’m, like you said feeling a little bit like a little bit down. I’M like oh man like there was my opportunity there. If i had taken that scalp i’d be in the ufc potentially and um, and then of course i tuned in to watch his fight and he fought an incredible fight, he looked great and it made me feel good too, because um, i knew that i nine times Out of ten, i put him away, i know it and um and to see what he did in the ufc just made me know. I’M just gon na come in and do the exact same and if not better and um and – and you know like i’ve, been training with some of the best some of the best fighters on the planet since 2016. And i know where i stand and then just just to see that opportunity kind of i guess dissipate. You know i was like man. I just need to get myself back so like i came and i was like. I need to stop trying to fight when i’m hurt just make sure you know my body is at 100. I know how to fight. I don’t need to go in there and break my body every day, so i just need to put put some more emphasis on my recovery. Put some more emphasis on taking care of myself and the simple fact that i could go in there and and feel good and not have to worry about. Oh, my knees are going to give out like you. Don’T want that so um when i came to vegas my whole thing was look. I need to get my knee repaired, let’s get back to where i know where i can be, and then let’s just get back fighting doing. What i do so, i knew being in vegas would give me probably a better opportunity to get into the ufc just because um well, i didn’t predict it because i couldn’t predict covid, but at the same time being out here, i just thought: hey. Maybe someone pulls out from a fight, gets hurt short notice, there’s my opportunity and i’m and i have no problem fighting short notice. I can make weight in five days so um you know. So i just thought to myself. If i’m here and i’m in that environment, you know whether it takes one two three four years i’ll get my shot. That’S what i believe. I truly believed it, and it came a lot quicker than i expected. I kind of had a side bet with a friend of mine that 2021 like six months since 2021. That would want to be a get. You know get my call up, but hey nothing better than coming in a little bit early. So i’m happy about that. You’Ve! Uh you’ve competed throughout asia, you’ve um uh. What was it south, korea, abu dhabi, uh, hong kong? What’S it like to be able to say you know what i’m just competing next door like? Is that just is it a nice change to just wake up, walk, walk there bro? It’S amazing, like i fought so in seven fights, i fought in six different cities. Um i’ve only fought once at home, which was in hong kong, which was amazing. I loved fighting at home um, but i’m always the b-side, i’m always the away fighter. So but don’t get me wrong. That’S one of the beauties of this sport, giving me the opportunity to travel the world and and see different cultures, and you know just being in a different environment and and also like you got to get comfortable being uncomfortable. So those are just one of those things that you’re just and i never was uncomfortable. I mean i fought a couple times in mainland china. I fought one time in mainland china. Okay, i was a little bit uncomfortable there. There were some pretty dodgy situations out there, but uh, but you know all my other fights all the promotions take care of us and and and they make sure everything is good for the you know for the fighters flying in. So you know now that i’m here in vegas – oh it’s great – i don’t have to get on a plane. I don’t have to wear a mask. Don’T have to do 85 covet tests, so it’s uh. At least my nose is going to be feeling a bit better before the fight and uh. You know i’m just excited man like the goal. As a kid like, i used to watch, you know, you know big boxing fights and big ufc fights as a teenager and being like man, i’d love to fight in the fight capital of the world. You know las vegas like and frick. It’S gon na happen in less than two weeks, so um yeah, it’s crazy man. That being said, um there’s a big two big fights going on later that that evening, i’m sure you’d want to finish things up, quick and go back and and watch them. But i have to ask you what your prediction is for that for that main event, uh davis and figuero uh fighting alex perez um. If i’m a betting man, i’m putting it on figgy, i mean that boy got power uh, but don’t get me wrong. Perez is a very talented fighter as well. He can bring it but uh i got figgy. I think i think he’s gon na defend that belt um. He looked incredible against joseph benavidez in both fights and he’s uh he’s a dangerous, dangerous fighter and um he’s got some serious power for 125 pounds, so i think he’ll get that w yeah at the end of the night and then yeah the cool main event. I think everyone’s writing valentine’s name down. How do you have that going? Yeah, that’s uh, that’s pretty inevitable. Um, you know valentine is an absolute monster. I’Ve seen her train in a tiger. We’Ve crossed paths she’s a phenomenal athlete her and her sister. It’S gon na be kind of a cool card. I think it’s a double it’s going to be. First, ever brother and sisters fighting on the same card, antonina, shevchenko valentina and then my opponent louie and his brother orion are fighting yeah yeah. I got info on on orion, he is, he is out of the card. I think he’s got. I don’t think that’s out there yet, but he is out but yeah that would have been unreal right. Okay, well, sorry to hear that for orion, but um, that’s um! Well, that’s, that’s. That’S still cool, though um you know see to to be, and that’s a cool thing too to be on a paper. I mean i’m not going to be on the pay-per-view. I’M guessing i’ll probably be on the prelims, but to be at you on ufc 255, where there’s two titles yeah um. You know, i think it’s it’s awesome. You know it’s not a fight night. It’S not a contender series fight. It’S a freaking pay-per-view! So um no better way to start start this debut than hopefully when everyone’s tuning in and watching you know all right and then i’ll ask you one last question and then i’ll, let you go for people who haven’t seen you fight. Maybe they haven’t watched your your last performance or any of your performances overseas. What can you say about your fighting style? Um? I’M a striker. I love to be dynamic with my striking a lot of footwork a lot of movement uh, i’m a chess player and i usually play against checker players. So it’s something that uh i play strategy, it’s a mental game. I don’t fight emotionally um technique, crisp technique, something that i’ve been working on since i was five years old. So if you like, martial arts and you like people getting put to sleep, watch my fights all right and then uh any sponsors or anybody you want to. Thank before uh before we end this um, i just you know i just want to thank everyone. That’S been supporting me throughout my career. If they’re tuning in uh give you guys follow a quarantine cast, and you know syndicate mma, all my teammates, my management, ruby and, and just everyone – that’s been a part of my journey. I appreciate you guys, and i just hope that uh you guys tune in and you follow my career and you enjoy uh. What i bring to the cage and don’t forget to don’t forget to do some research on hong kong and learn a little bit all right. Man, i thank thanks again for the time man i’m looking forward to this fight. Um, it’s it’s going to be fireworks. I like both of your fighting styles, so uh can’t wait to watch. It awesome appreciate your time, sir joe all right man stay safe. Thank you. All right there, you have it um man, i’m looking forward to this fight. It goes down on november 21st, so that’s only like two weeks away, can’t wait for it. Um if you haven’t yet like comment and subscribe and i’ll see you guys next time,

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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