French fighter Arnaud “The Game” Lepont is due to take on Cambodian-Australian Suasday Chau at One FC 20 on 12 September at the Koh Pich Theatre in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Lepont is not only due to take on Chau, but he is definitely due for a win, after suffering 3 consecutive defeats. His second performance at One FC 6 against Japanese fighter Shinya Aoki in 2012 saw him submitting to a triangle choke. His next defeat was from Eddie Ng at One FC 8 by arm bar. In his most recent fight at One FC 14 earlier this year against Kotetsu Boku, Lepont was defeated by KO in the first round.
So how would “The Game” change his game at One FC 20 to defeat Chau on his own home turf?
Lepont first corrected that he believed One FC brought in the best fighters, and when one battles the best, one cannot win all the time. These defeats taught him the courage to stand up to the best in their field no matter what it took; that a real fighter must be ready to win his fight, and be prepared to face a defeat with courage.
He said quite frankly that his fight against Aoki was the most embarrassing moment of his life. But he was forced to pick himself up quickly, learning a lot of patience and humility from the experience. Now he takes it “one fight at a time” and refuses to over-plan his game.
In preparation for his upcoming bout against Chau, Lepont stated,
“Nobody trains as hard as I do. The past fight experiences gave me the spirit and the rage I needed to train even harder to get better and stronger as a fighter. For this upcoming fight, I have done more sparring than before. I spent more time locked in the cage and also experimented with new cardio drills. I want to be able to fight for 15 minutes flat at full speed without worrying about my stamina.”
“Nobody trains as hard as I do.”
Lepont reckoned that apart from his hard training, he would not have been able to get this far without the support of his striking coaches, Coach Qui, Thep and Toy from Saigon Sports Club, his rolling partner and advisor Michael Cox, Tom Percasky, the Sallin Brothers, his Brazilian jiu jitsu professor Gael “Fox” Coadic, his first MMA trainer Mathieu “Warrior” Nicourt, and his former students Wooi and Vinod. Lepont insisted on crediting them all because he believes the support base of coaches and team mates was critical in moulding not only his approach as a pro-fighter, but also his outlook on life.
With a 10-4 record set against Chau’s 4-3, Lepont knows that his fight experience will give him an edge. However, he was quick to add that Chau is known to be a very aggressive fighter with good ground skills; all of his wins are by submission.
Additionally, Chau is originally from Cambodia, so Lepont is well aware that his opponent will have the home crowd behind him.
Lepont feels that’s the key challenge he’s always had, the nagging thought that he is the “underdog”. When he previously stepped into the cage with such thoughts, it would just open the opportunity for him to take a vicious beating. So now his mantra is to stay focused and be well-prepared for any situation presented – that only with adequate preparation can the confidence and determination to win be there. With this reasoning, Lepont reckons that his biggest strength is his courage. He said confidently,
“I will always give my best and bring a strong warrior spirit to the cage.”
“I will try to win or I will die trying.”
His upcoming bout against Chau will be his fifth fight with One FC. What spurred him to join the promotion was that he believed they were skyrocketing to being the top in Asia. Lepont at that time was with Dare Fight Sports and had just come off a victory against the undefeated Polish fighter Krzysztof ‘Haja’ Hajtalowicz, by a guillotine in the first round. Lepont felt it was his best fight and it got One FC to sit up and take notice of him. So when he was approached to fight South Korean Brian Choi at One FC 4 in 2012, he was quick to jump at the chance to sign on.
The 34-year old flamboyant Frenchman is now known for his dramatic walk-outs and flair for showmanship. If his crazy antics are anything to go by, it is telling that Lepont’s immense energy needs to be put to good use. When he was a little boy, his father nudged him into a dojo to train karate. Lepont thought that was the best education he’s had, as it planted the seed of his future career as a pro MMA fighter. From karate, Lepont then started to pick up other martial arts like Brazilian jiu jitsu, Muay Thai and wrestling.
Now as a coach himself, Lepont advises that in MMA a good and experienced coach is essential, and dedication to a smart training regime that combines techniques, drills and strength conditioning is critical. Lepont tells new students not to be obsessed with the colour of a belt. He said,
“Your level in BJJ does not determine your prowess as a fighter in the cage. This is MMA, and not BJJ. In the world of MMA, anything goes. A BJJ exponent with a blue belt can beat one with a black belt in the cage. With a combination of striking and ground skills, the whole game changes.”
This mad Frenchman does have a penchant for the good life. Outside the cage when he is not preparing for a fight, he loves good food and great wine, and relishes family time. He cannot wait to come home and spend time with his son after his upcoming bout.
This time, after 3 successive defeats, Lepont is prepared to dominate Chau in Cambodia and send him back to Australia, as he put it, “with a major headache”,
“I can see the words “fight of the night” written all over it.”
Lepont also whispered that he was indeed planning “something funny” for his walk out to enthrall the audience.
Arnaud Lepont can be followed on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thegamelepont.