is a Canadian Mixed Martial Artist based in Shanghai, and integral member of the Chinese MMA community. Fighting at light heavyweight (205 lb / 93 kg), Sothmann recently became the first foreign RUFF fighter
to sign with the Shanghai organization for the upcoming RUFF: Genesis
A veteran of four professional MMA contests, having previously fought in Beijing’s Art of War, Xi’an
and Singapore’s Martial Combat, Sothmann has amassed a wealth of experience in Chinese MMA.
A regular fixture at the epicenter of MMA in China, China Top Team
, training alongside some of the top names in China MMA like Zhang Tie Quan
, Zhao Zi Long
and Li Jinliang, Sothmann has also had the distinct opportunity to fight Chinese MMA legend Bao Li Gao.
After inking a fight contract with RUFF, Sothmann shared some opinions on MMA in China, the China Top Team, and number or other MMA related topics.Robert Sothmann on fighting for RUFF . . .
It’s a huge opportunity . . . if they’re gonna do things like this, this is huge.On MMA in China . . .
It’s still really young . . . but compared to what the rest of the world is doing now, it’s way behind. It’s not about skills of the individual fighters. It’s the talent pool itself and the money that’s in it and the understanding of the sport from a perspective of the common people. So, we’ve still got some work to do.On Training . . .
I’ll do it once a day until a few weeks out. Then a few weeks out, I’ll go to Beijing or I’ll go to Thailand, and then I’ll go to a proper camp, two times a day. No outside interferences.On China Top Team . . .
If my opponent is from [China] Top Team, than I can’t very well go there every morning and train. That being said, I have no ill will or any issues with anybody I fought, or that I’m going to fight with. It just doesn’t make strategic sense for me to be in the same room every day with the guy that I have to go to war with. On being a foreign fighter in China . . .
Promoters believe that the people that are watching, the fans, the crowd, are more interested in [foreigners] as flags rather than as individuals.On referees . . .
I’ve seen the refs allow fighters to hold the ropes for long periods of time, repeatedly.
The referee, who should be absolutely neutral, is not really neutral. He will hesitate to call certain things or he won’t know. I’m not saying that he has ill intentions, maybe he just doesn’t know. He’s not decisive enough if something happens.On the rules of previous Chinese MMA events . . .
The rules are very hazy, so the referees often actually don’t understand the rules. The judges don’t understand the rules. The fighters don’t follow or understand the rules. And the rules change from organization to organization, province to province, week to week. In the same organization the rules can change.On being the only foreign fighter to sign with RUFF . . .
I take a lot of pride in that. I paid my dues. I hope that the Chinese public likes [my] fighting style or maybe they know enough about me to think they have more in common with [me] than the other guys. It’s not as simple as just picking a flag or a color and sticking with it. On expectations . . .
I expect that [RUFF is] gonna do a much better job than anybody else concerning publicity. RUFF is gonna give me a nice platform to, one, express myself and, two, show my skill, and the improvements I’ve made since I started.
I’m looking forward to big things from the organization, from the public, and from myself. The pressure is a privilege.On fighting in the cage versus a ring . . .
is] 100-percent better, the cage rules. The ring is for boxing. I’ve seen way too many ways the ring can be exploited. You can cheat a lot in a ring. It favors strikers. It favors guys who are used to fighting in rings. You can hang on the ropes, even if you don’t use your hands there are ways to hook your elbow, and in the heat of battle guys will do anything to avoid going to the ground.
If you get your fingers stuck in a cage, that hurts so bad you won’t do it again. If you’re holding the cage and the guys rips you off the cage that hurts.
Yu can get tangled in the ropes, unintentionally or intentionally. You can get tangled in the ropes and the ref will restart you in the center, which means you get a breather and are never quite in the same position that you were in before. The angles are never quite the same and the guy on the bottom will never have himself in as bad a position as he was when he was against the ropes.
In a cage there’s more fluidity to the entire contest because there’s no stopping. When the fight stops it’s when somebody got kicked in the cup or a foul was committed. Then the guy gets a chance to recover. There’s no other way to stop it. You don’t just stop and start.
There were matches where guys tumbled through the ropes and fell into the crowd. And the cage is so much better. On his walkout . . .
In the past I’d try and relieve some of the tension because I was a bit nervous, and be a little flamboyant. But, I’ve found that if I’m really prepared I’m a lot less nervous. I walk out stone faced and I do my job.
I’m not saying I’m gonna be stone faced; I may be happy. I may dance my way out, I’m not being all tense and amped. I don’t require that. That was me 3, 4 years ago. I’m pretty calm.On what he goes through during a fight . . .
You don’t know exactly where you are. You have a general sphere of awareness in a cage or a ring, but outside of that you don’t know which corner is which most of the time.
Once you really start fighting you don’t know. If you can keep yourself out of the haze than you’re in control of the fight.
Sometimes you’re totally in control of the fight, and that’s usually when you’re in the dominant position and other times you’re dodging punches and you’re hearing your coach’s voice from the other guy’s corner.On fear and pressure . . .
It’s not fear of the opponent, it’s fear of not performing well: that paralyzes you. It’s the worst thing ever.
It’s not like a bar fight, the other guy is totally ready for you, he’s totally prepared. If you’re given notice for the fight you and he both know each others’ characteristics. It’s just like you did scouting, like you do for any sport; you know what the strong points are, you think you know what the weak points are.
That’s pressure.On fighting on short notice . . .
The Chinese fight game is a little different than the international fight game.
I fought once on 5 days notice in Xi’An . . . this was 2009.
[The promoter] had 50 guys [my] size . . . and I out of 300 fighters in this camp, the guy I got was ranked uno. Number one.
That was probably my worst showing to date.On fighting Bao Li Gao . . .
It was a last minute thing, I hadn’t planned on it . . . I had never actually been in an MMA match or a boxing match. I never did any amateur fighting. I was a guy who wasn’t afraid of contact and that’s it.
Four days before the event . . . I got confirmation that they needed me to be in Art of War . They [warned me] the [opponent was] the national champion. Well he wasn’t just the national champion, he was the world champion of Sanda, and a national icon of the sport as he was the best guy for like 10 years; one of two big names in China.
That was a learning experience. It was right into the deep end, get thrown in with the hardest hitter in the country in your first combat sports match. It was like here you go; top of the food chain. Go.