Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010 | 12:12 p.m.
Amir Sadollah is expecting a hostile crowd Nov. 13 when he battles Peter Sobotta in his backyard of Oberhausen, Germany, in a welterweight fight at UFC 122.
But the one nice thing about having thousands of Germans chant against you is that sometimes it can be hard to tell exactly what they're saying.
And "So-bott-a" sure sounds a lot like "Sa-doll-ah."
"His last name is close enough to mine that if they're chanting his name, I'll just tell myself they're chanting mine," joked Sadollah. "I'm huge in Germany."
In reality, Sadollah (3-2) likely has developed an ear for European accents as he's spent month at a time in Holland, training under striking coach Marco van den Broek.
The Las Vegas-based fighter has been living overseas since late October and says that by the time he makes the hour drive from his trainer's house to the Konig Pilsener Arena in Germany, he'll feel more or less at home.
"It's worked out great for me. This doesn't feel like an away fight," Sadollah said. "I've been here so many times before, and I've actually always wanted to fight in Holland.
"Obviously, Germany isn't Holland. But it's close enough that, for me, it feels like familiar territory."
The event will mark a big opportunity for Sadollah, who is looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance against Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 114 in May.
Sadollah, 30, has experienced an up-and-down ride since emerging as the surprise winner on the seventh season of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series.
After dealing with injuries in 2008 that kept him out of the octagon for more than a year, Sadollah has gone 2-2 since winning the TUF 7 tournament. He's looked great in decision wins over Phil Baroni and Brad Blackburn, but also suffered a 29-second TKO loss to Johny Hendricks and was mostly ineffective in the loss to Hyun Kim.
Setting jokes aside, Sadollah answers "Yes," when asked if he's happy with the way his career has played out thus far — but only because he believes the experiences are preparing him for something more.
"Yes, but not because it's the storybook tale I would have written for myself," said Sadollah. "But, yes, I'm happy if it means this is how I'm going to be at my best.
"That's really my only goal. I don't care if the road goes straight or it if zig-zags around as long as the end result is I'm the best mixed martial artist I can be."
As much as Sadollah says he's learned from his two professional losses, coming back to the states without his hand raised is an outcome he'd like to avoid.
Sobotta (8-3) likely is fighting on his last UFC leg after getting off to an 0-2 start in the organization. A loss to him would drop Sadollah to the bottom of the welterweight division and all but erase the memory of his strong performances against Baroni and Blackburn.
According to Sadollah, he's expecting a well-rounded opponent on the UFC 122 main card but is confident he's put in the work to control the fight.
"He seems like more of a counter fighter — somebody you have to pressure but at the same time not overextend yourself on. We'll see in the fight. My take is that he's pretty well rounded and it will be my job to make him feel uncomfortable."
Making a German feel uncomfortable in a German arena might seem like a tall task, but Sadollah feeling at home in the area should help.
Despite the fact he's half a world away from his actual home, Sadollah says he's enjoyed the best training camp of his career.
"(This culture) definitely puts me in the mood to fight," Sadollah said. "One thing I always admired when I gout here was the work ethic of the guys who train here. You walk into any gym and even the people that don't fight, work as hard as anybody in the states.
"Out here, everybody goes absolute. It's pretty easy to push yourself in that environment."