Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Former Dallas Cowboy Suni Filikitonga making transition to mixed martial arts
Filikitonga is one of the headliners at the upcoming Steele Cage Promotions event in Frisco.
Standing over six feet tall and packing a pain-inducing solid 280 pounds of girth Suni Filikitonga is an imposing figure to say the very least. But as you speak with this tank of a human and you are taken aback by a cool, calm, almost relaxed demeanor. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and in the case of Filikitonga; his menacing build is overshadowed by a downright laid back persona. But while Filikitonga may be an engrossing and chilled individual, deep inside his massive chest beats the heart of a fighter.
In the state of Texas nothing is as popular as the sport of football. Here in North Texas nothing bolsters that point quite like the rabid affinity for “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys. Growing up here in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Suni Filikitonga, like many young men, had grand aspirations of playing under the bright lights of Texas Stadium. But unlike the overwhelming majority of individuals with that very same dream, Filikitonga made his a reality.
“I went in as an undrafted free agent as a defensive tackle,” explained Filikitonga who made the Cowboys roster as a defensive end. “I played in 1998, the last year of Troy Aikman, when all the big dogs were still there.”
But while Filikitonga did what few could have ever imagined, making it onto the roster of a professional football team undrafted, his playing days were over before they ever really began as an injury would derail his dreams of gridiron greatness.
“When I was there, I played for a month,” reflects Filikitonga. “I was going into minicamp and we had our first game and I got injured in practice with a sprained knee. I was on the injured reserve list for the second game. After like the second or third game, that is when the decided that they needed to bring in someone else.”
With his dream of playing in the National Football League over before they ever began Filikitonga needed an outlet to curb his competitive spirit. After speaking with a friend he decided to give mixed martial arts a try.
“I had a friend that I had grown up with; he was asking me if I ever did mixed martial arts,” said Filikitonga. “I said, ‘yeah that would be cool.’ In high school I was in wrestling. I attended a class on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Mohler Jiu-Jitsu where I train now. My coach asked me if I had trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and I was like ‘no, but I wrestled’.
It soon became evident that Filikitonga was a natural born practitioner of the submission martial art.
“They taught me like two or three moves and I tapped out the whole gym with like two or three moves,” Filikitonga said with a laugh.
It is amazing how some people have a knack for excelling in the newest, and foreign of endeavors. Filikitonga natural adaptation to the various nuances of fighting and submission techniques that comprise mixed martial arts is commendable especially when you consider the debilitating injury that ended his football playing days.
It has been nearly five years since Filikitonga began training in mixed martial arts, and for the past three years he has plied his skills as a professional fighter. Boasting a record of 2-1 Filikitonga takes to the cage this Thursday night as the main event of the Steele Cage Promotions fight card at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas. Originally scheduled to face tough Tyler East, a new opponent has been tabbed in Ralph Kelly in light of East being injured in training.
Headlining a fight card in your hometown can be a stressful task but Filikitonga shrugs off such notions.
“It’s great for promoters,” Filikitonga concedes. “Promoters are looking for a knockout; everyone is looking for a knockout. That is what I’m looking forward to, giving everyone a knockout. I don’t really try to take it to the ground, but if it goes to the ground I can switch it around and do some ground and pound.”
Filikitonga is keenly aware that fans want to see a heavyweight fighter who has a penchant for rendering foes unconscious. Such expectations seem to weight heavy on his mind, which is a good thing for fans of the sport.
“[The fans] can expect a knockout,” Filikitonga assures. “They want to come out and see a knockout and I am going to give it to them.”
Not one to mince words when it comes to his fighting prowess, Filikitonga is supremely confident in his abilities as a fighter and makes no attempt to hide his desire to fight for the Ultimate Fighter Championship heavyweight championship.
“My goal is to get to the UFC and fight for the heavyweight title,” said Filikitonga. “I would like a shot at Brock Lesner. I’ll get about two more fights and then I want a shot. I mean I’m not scared or anyone but my dad and God.”
Pegasus News Content partner - North Texas Fisticuffs
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