The underdog tale is told many times in the sport of MMA. It’s a popular story, and there is no doubt that when an underdog overcomes the odds, it’s cause for celebration. Experts often weigh in on a battle where one fighter seemingly has an advantage, but for some fighters it makes no difference how anybody thinks the fight will play out. They find themselves in a win-win situation.

Sam “The Sledgehammer” Bastin finds himself in that situation as he prepares for his next fight. Bastin heads into his BRACE 20 bout on May 25 on the back of two successive wins, and he admittedly has a tough task in front of him as he faces a seasoned fighter in Rob Hill.

“This is different to every fight I’ve ever had,” he revealed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Rob has done a lot and he has been on the scene for a while. He’s had fights overseas, he has a lot of experience, and it’s the big step up that I need.”

Sporting a professional record of 4-5, Bastin goes into the fight with Hill as the heavy underdog. As we have heard many times before, anybody in the sport of MMA stands a chance and an aspect of the sport that we have all come to know and love is that inside that cage anything can happen. It’s that thought that Bastin keeps in the back of his mind going into this fight and he is more than willing to surprise anybody that doubts him.

“I don’t think that my record reflects my ability at all,” he said. “In the end, it’s just a number. I know that I am the underdog against Rob. All that anybody needs to know is that I am going in there to win, and that is exactly what is going to happen.”

From Port Macquarie, where Bastin is based, to Brisbane is a five-hour trek. Whilst some would possibly prefer to cut down their travel time with a flight, Bastin sees it as more of an opportunity to prepare for his fight.

“It’s kind of like a road trip,” he said. “We had the option to fly, but thought it’d be better for the team to drive up. There are two of us fighting on the card, so making a road trip of it made sense. It’s always good having a road trip somewhere [laughs]. It always makes it a little less stressful—more relaxing—before the fight and kind of puts your mind at ease.”

Having a little over a year between MMA bouts, Bastin has still been able to keep himself active. He certainly knows the importance of keeping his skills sharp, especially leading into such an important fight.

“I fought in an amateur boxing fight, and it ended up being for a state title,” he said. “I didn’t even know it was a title fight [laughs]. The guy had a record of 27-2 and I took it on short notice just so I could stay active. I won the fight, and it’s always good to stay competitive and have that slight edge over your opponents.”

Often you find that a fighter will predict highlight reel finishes, or a fight to remember. Bastin, however, is a little more modest with how he believes the fight with Hill will play out.

“Don’t expect a scrap,” he admitted. “I think that it’s going to be a good technical fight, and I think that we will both be taking our time and picking our shots. I know that he can fight—that’s why I chose to fight him. I want to go out there and beat him as the underdog.”

Aspirations are big in this sport. If you ask any fighter, they will certainly tell you that they want to fight in the UFC at some point in their career. With so many years left ahead of him, Bastin certainly has the same aspirations, but he is also conscious of what is required to realize them.

“Being only 21, I have plenty of time to learn and I am more than willing to do whatever it takes to get there.” Bastin explained. “I have time on my side and I will work hard to get there. If I could train all day every day, I would. But I have a full-time job too. Luckily it’s based around fitness, so I still get to be active while I work.”

BRACE 20 is set to be the biggest test of Sam Bastin’s two-and-a-half-year career. Win, lose or draw, one thing will be certain: the experience itself will be one that helps Bastin develop into the fighter that he knows he can be. With so many years ahead of him in his career, there is no doubt that if he can overcome his own underdog story this weekend, the role of the underdog just may be reversed in his next fight.

Sam would like to thank Allegiance Combat and Fitness, Allegiance clothing, Fight TV and Speedy Ads. Follow Bastin on Twitter: @Sam_Bastin. Follow BRACE on Twitter: @BRACEMMA. Keep up to date with Sam through his website: www.sambastin.com

Photo: Brace 20 Logo (BRACE)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.