The date might have changed, but the stakes are still the same.
This weekend, Burlington, Ont.’s Serhiy Sidey (5-1) will defend his BFL bantamweight championship against Coquitlam, B.C.’s Ali Wasuk (4-1) at BFL 70 in Vancouver, B.C. It’s another opportunity for east meets west on UFC Fight Pass with two of Canada’s top prospects finally getting the chance to square off.
Sidey and Wasuk were originally set to meet this past summer for the vacant BFL bantamweight title, but after difficulties with his weight cut Wasuk was forced to drop out.
“S**t happens and he didn’t make the last fight, it doesn’t bother me,” Sidey said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“When I fight I don’t bring in any emotion. I like to keep an even temper. I feel like I perform better that way. I’m very excited to fight him because I feel like his style is going to bring out all the skills I’ve been working on the last few years and I finally get to show it all.”
Of course, every fight is unique and Sidey, 25, said he expects his next opponent to approach the fight much different than the last.
With his exciting style and long range striking ability, Sidey will look to utilize his reach and make it as uncomfortable as possible for Wasuk on fight night.
“In my last fight, I knew Gio was going to come out hard, so I wanted to keep my distance and keep a high guard. Honestly my initial game plan was to wrestle a bit and take him into the later rounds,” Sidey explained.
“With Ali, I’m really going to put the pressure on him and kind of put him outside his comfort zone. I’m a taller guy with a longer reach and I’ve been developing my distance and range management really well. I’m going to make sure I’m at the end of all my strikes with him.”
After the cancelled bout, Sidey was then scheduled for a matchup against another top prospect, Gio Platon, back in September.
He passed that test with flying colours and it’s led him right into this next opportunity.
“It’s been a continuation of the last camp,” Sidey said.
“My last fight ended so quickly I just took a few days off to recover, hang out and celebrate, then I went right back to work. I really feel like my timing and my accuracy has developed so much going through back-to-back camps.”
Known for his striking, his last performance was the first submission in Sidey’s young career.
He said the result was a testament to the hard work put in at the gym for a fighter who is always looking to evolve, even after a decisive win.
“I just keep building. In that last fight, even though it was so quick, there were some little things that me and my coaches wanted to go through and adjust,” Sidey said.
“I’ve already done a whole camp for Ali, so it’s all about building on that. I’ve been working on my wrestling, training at Niagara Top Team with all those guys. I just keep improving my game and making sure that everything is well-rounded.”
With the results to show, fast-rising prospect Sidey is constantly improving and it’s his unique striking style that tends to confuse his opponents and amuse the fans.
With no shortage of slick knockouts to his name, Sidey is always looking to add to his highlight reel.
“I definitely think it’s my striking and my unorthodox style, as well as my timing, that sets me apart,” Sidey said.
“I’ve been working a lot with my coaches punching off the back step and finding those counter shots and I just feel like I can hit my opponent with any limb of my body from anywhere in the cage and do lots of damage. I love to switch stances a lot, throw lots of unpredictable stuff, and it makes it super hard to prepare for me.”
Moving forward, Sidey has long-term goals in the back of his mind but right now his focus is solely on Wasuk.
Friday night marks back-to-back main events for Sidey and the first title defence of a reign that could last as long as he wants it to.
“After this fight I’d just love to fight another top 10 opponent,” Sidey explained.
“I just want to keep getting harder and harder fights. I think Ali is a tough opponent, he has a good record and once I beat him I just want to keep challenging myself until I get that call to the UFC.”