Cage Fury Q&A: Tanner Saraceno Embracing Underdog Role
Alliance MMA's Dalton Lanoza spoke with CFFC welterweight contender Tanner "The Hammer" Saraceno ahead of his main event title bout versus Sean Brady at CFFC 65.
Last time we spoke I asked you about your experience on Tough Enough…Now I wanna know, what was your first Cage Fury Experience like? How was fighting at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in front of a sold-out events center?
"It was incredible. It was my first time fighting back up north. I’m originally from New York so it was nice fighting closer to my hometown. The event, the organization, their hospitality, and the structure of it all—I’ve never been a part of anything like that, so it was awesome and a great experience for me."
How about fighting in front of Dana White? What was that like? Would you like to fight in front of him again?
"That was pretty cool. I didn’t notice him until closer towards the end of round 1. A buddy of mine misinformed me as to where Dana was sitting, so I think I was looking for him and sure enough I had Matt up against the side of the cage where Dana was and that’s when I realized the UFC president was watching my fight. It was sort of a jolt of energy, but almost a distraction because it was so exciting.
The end goal is to make it there where Dana's watching all of my fights. Then just strive to continue growing and in the end be the best of the best."
Was your walk out song "Call Me Maybe" a joke to get him to call you, or do you just like that song?
"Yes and No, That was actually my walk out song for the majority of my amateur career, and a little bit of my pro career. One of the promotors when I fought my amateur debut basically said ‘If you don’t give us a walkout song pronto you’re gonna come out to 'Call me Maybe.’ I listen to it all the time. It’s a good song. I heard it all the time messing around in college wrestling, so when that promotor said that I was just like ‘Go for it.’ Since then I’ve noticed the crowds kind of like it and it has just sort of stuck."
When you got the heel hook on Matt Socholotiuk, did you surprise yourself with that one?
"Yea actually it was kind of an accident. One of the things I’ve always done throughout my career was to pace myself throughout fights and make sure I don’t hit that adrenaline dump. I want to be nice and controlled in the cage working off of my technique and not adrenaline. So towards the end of the round, I knew I had dominated. I knew I won the round with the possibility of a 10-8, so that last few seconds I didn’t feel the need to advance or explode out of the position I was in to get on top.
I was kind of just hanging out waiting for the bell and sure enough he actually through a punch at me while we were sitting in 50-50. When he through that punch I had to lean back because I didn’t want to get hit, and then I noticed his ankle was right there. I knew there were only a few second left so I just ripped it as hard as I could."
Have there been any developments with your wrestling career, or has your sole focus lately been MMA?
"I’ve been fairly busy these past couple months. I run a tree service company and I’ve really been picking up business with that. So, between that my MMA career, and the fact that I’ve also just started teaching wrestling at my gym, I’m pretty slammed right now. My wrestling career certainly isn’t over, but it’s kind of on hold right now. I got some things that are in the front of the line."
Do you expect to have your own group of supporters at the 2300 Arena on fight night?
"I will have my share of friends there, but I’m expecting him to have the much larger crowd than me. He’s the local guy and I’m sure his people don’t have to travel very far for this one. I’m expecting to be the under dog and certainly in hostile territory. He’s also fought for the promotion before so folks who go to a lot of CFFC shows will probably recognize him and not me….until I win the title."
Lets talk about your opponent Sean Brady. (5-0) lots of hype behind him. Someone that is going to be the hometown guy on May 20th, what are your thoughts on him and how do you think you two match up?
"Honestly, we’re kind of going into this fight blind. All my camp knows about him is that he has a brown belt under the Gracie family so there’s some strong linage there. I certainly respect that he’s got some good jiujitsu, but that’s really all we kind of know. There’s not a whole lot of footage for us to get on him. So, obviously we’re going into this expecting him to be the best he’s ever been. I know he’s on the shorter side, and I’m guessing he’s gonna be really strong with heavy hands, so I’m prepared for all of that.
There really is only so much you can prepare for basing your judgement off of the one fight he had two years ago. So, what that means is focusing on really being the best fighter and athlete that I can be. I don’t really have a game plan per se, I just know what I’m good at. I’m in there to fight, and I plan on using my own skills; great wrestling, heavy hands, length and range too. I’m not an easy opponent to prepare for myself. It’s going to go the way I want, and all I have to do is execute. I know I need the finish because I don’t expect a decision to go my way there."
If you win the title what’s going to be the next step for you? How many more fights would you like to get in before moving on to the next level?
"I’m ready to make that next step. I’ve got the confidence, I’ve got the work ethic, the skill, the resources, the training—ya know I have everything I need to be at that level short of having that job title of UFC fighter. So until then I’m just gonna keep plucking away, getting better with each fight, and working my way towards that opportunity."
You always say you want to be a legend of the sport. Your tree company is called Tanner’s Legendary Tree Service, what does that word mean to you?
"There’s not exactly a hidden meaning behind it. What my goal is just for life in general is to avoid being mediocre or average with anything I do. I put in too much work and time to go down as someone who people talk about and say, ‘Oh yeah he could fight. He was pretty good.’ I don’t want that. I want to be what people call a legend of the sport. Someone like Dan Henderson, and Anderson Silva. People just talk about them in awe and my goal is to reach that level. That’s what I strive for in my athletics, in my tree service, and I’m just constantly growing and learning and advancing myself closer to reaching that legendary status. I have a long way to go, but I think I’m on the right track."
To catch Tanner's welterweight title fight against Sean Brady this Saturday at the 2300 Arena, order your tickets by going to bit.ly/CFFC65tix