“We just decided that I needed a place where I had more consistent partners and was challenged more,” he said. “You’ve got guys at Sanford MMA who are here every day that you could scrap with and learn from. It’s one of the best gyms in the world, and it meant a lot for somebody (Jimmo) who’s taught me almost everything up until to this point to realize that I needed a change so I could be challenged and be around some of the best guys in the world and the best fighters and coaches in the world to help me grow.”
So far, so good for Kasanganay, who raves about his new coaches and training partners while admitting that sometimes he goes home from practice wondering, “What just happened?”
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But when his suspension was up, his training situation was solidified and he decided that he was going to drop from middleweight to welterweight, he answered the call from the UFC for this weekend’s fight and eagerly accepted.
“I didn’t come into this to become one of those guys who just fights the guys who are okay,” he said. “I came here to fight the best and become the best. When you go through something tough and you’re still respected, it shows. God lets certain things happen in your life, but he’ll also place certain enemies on your path, and the greater the enemy, the greater the victory. Sasha’s a very good fighter and I’m honored to fight somebody like that. He had a great debut, fought with a lot of heart, fought tough, he got hurt and was feeling it, but he came back and found a way to win. I only like to fight guys who come to fight, who will fight honorably, and guys with a spirit of fighting. I’ve got nothing but respect for anybody that I’ve ever fought or will fight.”
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Kasanganay has earned that respect right back and will continue to do so as he chases a world title. As for that bad moment last October, you won’t hurt him with it. He’s moved on, with a note to those who do what to keep bringing it up.
“You can play the highlight all you want, but the day I get the belt, play the highlight too,” he said. “That’s my main focus, I just gotta keep moving forward. I can’t change it, so all I can do now is respond to it better. Without that fight, without that being a blessing for me, I would have never been here.”