The Rainton Arena in Houghton le Spring had the pleasure of hosting Almighty Fighting Championship 22 on January 22nd.
The event kicked off their first show of the year, with eleven more to follow throughout 2022. Almighty FC 22 lived up to fans expectations, making it a difficult choice for promoter Ray Thompson to hand out those new bonuses.
I caught up with amateur featherweight Sami Hoque, who was among the action on Jan 22. Sami Hoque picked up his most significant win to date when defeating Luke Richardson in a tough three-round battle to remain undefeated.
Interview with Sami Hoque
Several days post a tough three-round fight with Luke Richardson. How are you feeling after a fight like that?
“Once again, Alhamdulillah, I’ve come out of a fight the winner with no new injuries. I’m happy with my performance; what makes it better is that it was against such a high calibre opponent in Luke Richardson.”
After sharing the cage with Luke, was anything in there that surprised you and caught you off guard, or was it everything you anticipated in preparation?
“My opponent brought his best, and that’s what I was anticipating. I said before the fight I’m comfortable wherever the fight goes, and I proved that by winning all three rounds convincingly. I made him miss, I made him pay, and I took him down on my terms- It’s going to take something or someone spectacular to beat me.”
Watching you in the zone Saturday night was brilliant to watch. The footwork is something that impresses people massively, and the reason Luke found it so difficult to land anything clean. It reminds me of Dominick Cruz. Is that someone you’ve taken inspiration from, or has that always been something you’re naturally good at?
“You forget my coach and Uncle is Shaj Haque! You saw in his last performance and all his other fights, it’s so hard to deal with. I have to credit him for developing part of his style into mine, and it’s working for me. Dominick Cruz is alright, too, I guess!”
The fight with Luke was talked about as your biggest test to date in your career, and you passed. However, was there anything you weren’t happy with yourself within the cage?
“A finish would’ve been nice, but I’m not unhappy about it. You got to understand that I’m fighting the best guys in the country. It’s going to be hard to finish them all. In this fight, I out grappled the grappler. To do that to a legit BJJ purple belt is something I’m proud of and has given me even more confidence in my skills.”
Almighty FC 22 marked a sensational night for ACE MMA, winning all three fights. What do you put the gym’s recent success down to as you all seem to be going from strength to strength?
“When you look at the top gyms in the world, you look at who the coaches are. Shaj Haque, Sham Haque and Jordan Cooper are the coaches you want and need. Our team is doing so well has to be down to them. We are getting the toughest fights and coming away with huge results. I believe we got the ‘team of the night’ bonus once again.”
You did say if you were to remain undefeated and get past Luke. You wanted the next title shot. Is that something that’s still on your radar? If so, when are you hopeful of getting that booked?
“100% I’ve still got the AFC title on the radar. For that fight, I’d love it to be in June when Almighty FC returns to the Rainton Arena. It’ll be my home crowd, and I can already imagine the atmosphere and scenes when my arm gets raised and the belt gets handed to me… But whenever, wherever and whoever it is, I will be ready In’sha’allah.”
What do the next few weeks look like for you now? Will you take your foot off the gas and enjoy some time relaxing, or will it be straight back to the gym and improving for when that call comes?
“2022 is going to be my year. I’m being smart with my approach; recovery is just as important as training- I’m listening to my body. But don’t get me wrong, I know title fights are next for me, and you best believe I’m going to graft my arse off for these sort of opportunities. I’m coming it all, and I can not wait for my time.”