‘REBEL’ Saki’s UFC Prospects

Gökhan Saki To Make September 23 UFC Debut 


This. Is. Happening.

Two-time Dutch and Euro Champ in Muay Thai. K-1 World GP finalist in 2006. K-1 Champ in 2008. A heavy-hitting, lightning-quick kickboxing juggernaut.

I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled to see what the legend and original GLORY Light Heavyweight Champion, Gokhan Saki, can do inside the octagon.

With that being written, let’s temper our expectations.

While he has consistently been one of the top kickboxers in the world when it comes to the big guys, with victories over the elite such as Tyrone Spong, Ray Sefo, Anderson Braddock Silva, he has fallen to some of the very best, too.

Saki carries losses to kickboxing legend Peter Aerts, kickboxing’s bad boy Badr Hari, the “Gentleman” Remy Bonjasky, and the current GLORY golden boy and heavyweight kingpin Rico Verhoeven.

Let’s very quickly recap some those big fights, then talk about what we should expect from Saki in this massive step-up to the big leagues:



vs. Anderson “Braddock” Silva

This fight highlights some of Saki’s explosive striking, both with his hands and his kicks.

Anderson has the size advantage (as they are competing in a heavyweight tourney), but Saki is so much faster.

Saki ultimately lands with his boxing and finishes this one early.





vs. Rico Verhoeven

This one is a little controversial in it’s outcome, but I feel it’s a great showcase of what Gohkan Saki is capable of against the highest caliber of fighter.

A lot of people felt that this fight went to the wrong guy, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.




vs. Alistair Overeem

This is a battle between former teammates and now, both MMA fighters.

Overeem was on an MMA hiatus and was at the top of the kickboxing world at this point.

This is a fun fight that might give us an idea of what Saki might look like against another elite striker in the cage.



The Rebel & MMA

As for MMA experience, it doesn’t look great for Saki thus far.

He’s 0-1 with a TKO from James Zikic, a journeyman fighter with a winning record. Combine his debut with a pro like Zikic, and this was certainly a rough night for Saki.

But hey, it’s common for debut fights to go poorly. So let’s go into his UFC debut with a fresh set of eyes and keep the expectations realistic.


Saki Bombs


What I think he will do well is hit his opponents hard and fast with his crisp, tight boxing and hammer them with low kicks.

My concern is the pacing of MMA as opposed to kickboxing. Will he adjust well to the constant pressure, the distance and the length of the fight?

I expect the UFC to match him up in one of two ways. They may bring in a promotional newcomer to keep things competitive and have Saki start slow.

On the flip side, they may pick someone outside of the top 15 to test Saki’s mettle and give him a low value name to build off.

I can see them pairing him up with someone like Steve Bosse or Joshua Stansbury. These guys will indulge him in the stand up game, and are unlikely to go for the takedown.

However, if they really want to test him, Igor Pokrajac might be the man for the job. Pokrajac is capable of taking him down as well as likely to stand with him until it becomes inconvenient.

Personally, I want to see the Bosse fight. That would just be a lot of fun to watch. Guaranteed fireworks!


Debut Fight

It has been announced that Saki will fight Henrique da Silva, who holds a 12-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC record, at the September 23 UFC Fight Night event at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

In da Silva, Saki faces an opponent who is notoriously easy to hit. Da Silva will be forced to look for a takedown against the kickboxer. Whether or not he gets that takedown is what I think will decide this one.

I am surprised they are giving him an opponent with a sizable experience advantage over him. But with the huge striking advantage going to Saki, I’m still very excited to see this fight come together. 


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Anthony Crozzoli
Anthony is a martial artist with 16 years of experience from Karate, Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. He currently teaches and trains out of Melbrook Martial Arts Academy in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.

Anthony has a passion for the striking arts and is striving towards his own amateur kickboxing career.

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