There will be a new 135-pound king of BFL crowned on Friday night.
Coquitlam, B.C.’s Ali Wasuk (4-1) and Burlington, Ont.’s Serhiy Sidey (4-1) will face off for the vacant BFL bantamweight championship at BFL 67 in Vancouver, B.C. It’s east meets west on UFC Fight Pass with two of Canada’s top prospects facing off.
Coming off a second round submission of Craig Maclean in last outing at BFL 66, which was his fourth win in a row after a split decision loss in his pro debut, Wasuk, 29, got exactly what he asked for with this shot at the title.
“This has been one of my goals since I turned pro. It should be everyone’s goal when they turn pro, to win a regional title, especially when it’s one of the biggest promotions in Canada,” Wasuk said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I’m super excited for the opportunity and to showcase another great performance.”
After reeling off four straight wins in convincing fashion to start his career, Sidey, 24, ran into the toughest test of his career when he lost a gruelling decision to Mateo Vogel his last time out at BTC 9.
Sidey will be making his first trip out to the West Coast as he looks to capture the BFL gold, and he’ll be bringing a brand new bag of tools with him.
“I learned a lot in that fight I lost. He was a very high-level grappler and it was the first time I’d dealt with something like that. Before then I don’t think I’d even been taken down,” Sidey said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I learned about a lot of technical errors. Me and my coaches sat down and reviewed the footage and during my time off I’ve been working on my jiu-jitsu and wrestling, travelling down to Niagara Top Team and training with all the wrestlers down there. Like they say, you either win or you learn and that was such a great learning experience for me. I’m excited to show off all the little details I’ve been working on since.”
Wasuk looking to prepare himself for big leagues
Winning a regional title in MMA has always been a great stepping stone to bigger and better things for young prospects.
It won’t come easy for either man on Friday night, but Wasuk said that’s exactly the challenge he’s looking for.
“I never look past my opponents and that’s because I never take an easy fight. I know the danger that Serhiy brings to the table and that’s what gets me going every day. It pushes me to run those extra miles,” Wasuk said.
“When you pick easy fights, it’s hard to get motivated. People think it’s about padding your record, but doing that you’re eventually going to get exposed. I don’t want to just fight in the UFC; once I get there, I want to prove that I belong and I’m there to stay.”
After the performance Wasuk put on at BFL 66 it gave him a chance for a fairly quick turn around.
He said he’s been able to zone in on the technical side of things in this camp and it’s made him even more confident as a fighter.
“I feel like I’m always in shape, but just coming off a fight and hopping into another one I was more able to focus more on technique instead of cardio, so that’s been the beauty of this camp,” Wasuk said.
“I think he’s a great fighter, I think he’s got a bright future, but he’s catching me at the wrong time. I think it’s going to be a long night for him. I have a lot of respect for all of my opponents, I know he brings a lot to the table coming from a good camp, but I don’t think he’s been tested the same way I have.”
Throughout his career, Wasuk has shown his world-class grappling skills, but is now excited for the potential chance to display his well-roundedness.
With a great team around him, Wasuk has been steadily improving each time out and, right now, the sky’s the limit for the youngster.
“I think a lot of people haven’t been able to see it because I’ve taken the grappling route and it’s worked so well, but I keep saying it: I’m excited to showcase my striking. I think this might be the fight where it comes out,” Wasuk said.
“He’s got some nice kicks and stuff like that, but, again, if you try to throw kicks against a grappler you’re getting taken down. I feel like it’s going to be a fun one.”
Sidey ready to level up
Entering Friday night’s contest, there’s no shortage of mutual respect between the two title challengers.
Sidey said he’s looking forward to testing his newly-acquired grappling skills against Wasuk, but he’s definitely not overlooking the other aspects of his game.
“I think he’s well rounded. I know he hasn’t been able to show his striking, but he’s coming from a good camp,” Sidey said.
“I think, in his last fight, his opponent made some technical errors that I definitely won’t be making. I want that challenge and a guy like this motivated me very much the whole camp. I know it’s going to be a tough fight and, regardless, it’s going to level me up. He’s well-rounded, but he’s definitely going to try and take it to the ground at some point I think.”
Sidey is known for his slick striking and with three of his four professional wins ending on the feet, he’s always looking for the highlight of the night.
With a loaded arsenal to pull from, Sidey has quickly made a name for himself as one of the most exciting bantamweights to watch in Canada.
“I always like to use the term calculated chaos. I actually think I’ve hurt my opponents with every limb of my body, so I’m very confident I can put the lights out pretty quickly,” Sidey said.
“When I get in that cage, I hit this flow state and a lot of my stuff is unorthodox, but it just comes so naturally to me I see the opportunity and I capitalize on it.”
“My entire team at Tristar Vancouver. Big shout out to my head coach, Kajan Johnson.” Follow Wasuk on social media: INSTAGRAM