Sam Sicilia knows what it’s like to walk into an arena and not have a single fan in attendance cheer for him during a fight.
On two occasions, Sicilia has traveled to Brazil to face home country favorites and whether he could understand Portuguese or not, he got the idea that he wasn’t a welcomed guest. In his last fight, Sicilia was competing with his job on the line against local fighter Godofredo Pepey, and whether the Brazilian crowd liked it or not, the former Ultimate Fighter competitor was not flying home to the United States with a loss on his record.
Especially not after the faith UFC president Dana White showed in him following two straight losses and a pink slip courtesy of the matchmakers.
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"I know Dana’s a man of his word. After those two losses, I got cut for like a day or two," Sicilia revealed when speaking to FOX Sports. "Cause on paper it made sense so the matchmaker cut me. And Dana after my loss to Maximo (Blanco) said ‘you’re not going anywhere, you lay it all on the line’. He said no you’re not cut because I said it. He didn’t have to do that. So then I had another shot and I had to make the boss man look brilliant so I had to go shuttle Pepey off."
After those two losses, I got cut for like a day or two. And Dana after my loss to Maximo (Blanco) said ‘you’re not going anywhere, you lay it all on the line.
"I put all that weight on myself and dumped it all on Pepey the poor guy. I had to carry that around for a long time. I’m like dammit Dana goes to bat for me and if I go out there and lose that’s going to look terrible. We liked that matchup with Pepey and we took care of business and got the hell out of there."
Following two fights in Brazil against local fighters, Sicilia welcomed a bout at the upcoming UFC Fight Night show in Georgia and then he found out who he was facing. His opponent on Jan 15 will be Cole Miller - who just happens to hail from Augusta, Georgia, which sits about two hours east of where they will be fighting next Wednesday night.
Now some fighters might think the UFC is enjoying this little bit of matchmaking by continuously sending Sicilia into hostile territory, but as it turns out he actually welcomes the challenge now. Sicilia isn’t necessarily looking to turn into Josh Koscheck or Michael Bisping when it comes to the highest levels of MMA villainy, but he enjoys playing spoiler for another fighter competing in their home area.
It’s the reason Sicilia has found one particular superhero movie he likes to put on before every one of his fights. He can quote it line for line, but he’s not cheering for the Caped Crusader to come out on top when the movie is over. Sicilia would much rather root on the bad guy.
"I watch The Dark Knight Rises like 100 times before I go fight and just go out there and be Bane," Sicilia said. "I don’t mind being the bad guy. After that we’ll have our fight, and I wish Cole Miller the best from Jan 16 on, but on the 15th I’m invading his hometown.
"They send me these places to be the bad guy and I kind of like that role really. I’m okay with it."
Sicilia might even have a familiar greeting for Miller once they meet in the middle of the Octagon.
Before he competes in Georgia, Sicilia will once again draw inspiration from his favorite movie although he’s still quite angry at how the movie ended. No matter how many times he watches, Bane just can’t seem to come out on top and defeat Batman.
Director Christopher Nolan isn’t likely to go back and re-write the conclusion of The Dark Knight Rises any time soon, so Sicilia will have to live with making his own ending when he faces Miller in his backyard. In his version of the story, Sicilia as Bane breaks Miller’s Batman and he never rises again.