Expectations are always a tricky thing, especially when they are piled on heavily and early. That is a huge part of the story of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou’s career.

It doesn’t really seem like that long ago when “The African Assassin” was entering the UFC with huge hype surrounding him. He was just 24 years old at the time, and he was fresh off of two straight first-round knockouts over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona in Pride. He entered his Octagon debut bout at UFC 79 possibly only a fight or two away from becoming the next big challenger for Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who stood as the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion.

Sokoudjou ran into a buzz saw in that debut when he met Lyoto Machida. Machida choked out Sokoudjou, and the Pride veteran never really recaptured the hype that had followed him in his early career. He went 1-1 after that bout, then he was released by the UFC.

Since then, Sokoudjou’s career has been a bit of an odyssey. He has fought in pretty much every notable organization and almost every MMA-hungry country across the globe. But, on Friday night, Sokoudjou finally enters back into the spotlight here in the United States.

Sokoudjou (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Sokoudjou (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

The Cameroonian fighter makes his debut for the Bellator. He will take on Terry Davinney at Bellator 121 in Thackerville, Okla.

“It feels great to be back in the United States fighting for a great organization like Bellator,” Sokoudjou admitted to The MMA Corner. “Bellator has been good to me, and I feel like I’m a part of a team or family now.”

The feeling of a home is huge for a man like Sokoudjou. He has fought nearly everywhere. He has only 26 professional fights, but he has fought in the United States, Canada, Abu Dhabi, Russia, Australia, Japan and Israel, just to name a few.

“I enjoy traveling,” Sokoudjou stated. “I’m very grateful to have traveled and fought in all of these different countries.”

Although he certainly loves the traveling history of his career, the light heavyweight also believes there was a downside to all the country hopping.

“People don’t realize that, with the jet lag, it just takes one little thing to screw everything up,” he explained. “Now, I’m not stressed out wondering what I should do here.”

Fighting closer to home was a big deal for Sokoudjou, who resides in California, but an organization like Bellator is also a big deal for him at this stage in his career. Sokoudjou is admittedly taking it one fight at a time, but the possibilities in Bellator are endless. He could find himself in the cage against the likes of the aforementioned Rampage or such notables as Tito Ortiz and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal.

“Anytime I have the opportunity to fight a fighter with great skills, I jump on it.” Sokoudjou admitted. “But I have to do what I have to do before I get to do what I want to do.”

The first thing that Sokoudjou has to do is beat Davinney. Davinney is a 17-fight veteran of the sport. He is on a two-fight losing streak, same as Sokoudjou, but Davinney’s last appearance in Bellator was a 15-second knockout victory.

“I’m coming into this fight with heavy artillery,” declared Sokoudjou. “After the fight, this guy is going to need CPR.”

A victory like that would certainly do a lot for Sokoudjou’s relevance and credibility in the fight game.

Sokoudjou (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Sokoudjou (L) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Sokoudjou has always been a bit of a streaky fighter. He will look like a world beater for stretches, but then he will suffer multiple setbacks. The black belt judoka is currently on the downside of one of those streaks. He has lost two straight in Russia, and American fans haven’t seen him since a loss to Houston Alexander way back in 2011. Sokoudjou knows that some fans are skeptical of how far he can make it in Bellator, and he knows his plans of an explosive victory could do wonders for fan perception of him. But, in the end, Sokoudjou is really focused on just one thing.

“At the end of the fight, I just wanted my coaches to be impressed that I went out there and did what I was supposed to do,” Sokoudjou confessed. “If I always worried about impressing people, I would probably just stay home.”

Sokoudjou’s journey as a fighter certainly hasn’t entailed him staying home. That long journey has led him to Bellator and his likely last shot at glory, which begins on Friday.

Sokoudjou would like to thank all of his sponsors. He would also like to thank all of his teammates and coaches at Reign Training Center and Team Quest for getting him ready for this fight. He would also like to thank all of his supporters and haters for adding to his motivation for a victory. Follow Sokoudjou on Twitter: @SokTeamQuest

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.