About Sunni: "My name is Sunni Imhotep (yes, like Imhotep from The Mummy) and I fight out of BETA Academy in Washington D.C. I am competing at the 2014 WKA Championships in a few days in the Lightweight division (155 lbs). I will be doing Mixed Martial Arts at this competition and hopefully come back to D.C. with yet another WKA championship for our academy."
Sunni was kind enough to answer questions for us as part of our new Featured Athlete series.
How did you come to mixed martial arts? How long have you been training?
I started martial arts when I was 11 years old (I am now 23 years old). I was originally going to do boxing but my mother thought that there wasn't really any discipline in it (she was definitely right). So I eventually started training Muay Thai & Judo at a small academy in College Park, MD. It was not until 7 or 8 years ago that I started taking training seriously. That's around the time I decided that this was what I wanted to do.
What is your training schedule prior to a fight? How difficult is it to manage fight training with job, social life, etc.?
My training schedule is always the same. I train as much as I possibly can. At least once a day, 6 days a week is normal. Depending on my job situation, I can sometimes do 2-3 training sessions a day. Whatever time I have left is spent with my friends/girlfriend.
How would you describe your fighting style? Is there a pro you like to emulate?
I think my fighting style is pretty simple actually, hit, don't get hit and look good doing it. Martial Arts is exactly that, an art. I think there is beauty in this art, and it comes from execution of amazing techniques. The only two professional fighters I think I try to "emulate" in MMA are Jose Aldo and Carlos Condit (who fought just last weekend). Those guys show amazing technique and that is what I love to demonstrate as well.
Watch Sunni win his first mixed martial arts fight in less than a minute.
What do you love most about competing in mixed martial arts?
Mixed martial arts is a double edged sword. On one hand, it is beautiful and mastering it is a lifelong pursuit. This sport is also dangerous and must be respected for what it is; a brutal exhibition of will and technique. You leave it all on the line in the cage. Honestly, I don't love it. I like it to the extent that I want to win and look good doing it, but to love it is to embrace something that I do not want to fall victim to. Competing is nerve racking and stressful. As big and bad as you want to seem, this isn't a basketball game, or a tennis match. You can get hurt doing this sport. I think that plays a part in my fighting style also, because if you're doing techniques properly and focusing on the art instead of just trying to brawl with people, then you will last a lot longer in this sport.
You are scheduled to compete in the World Kickboxing Association Amateur Mixed Martial Arts tournament this coming weekend. Tell us what you hope to accomplish in this competition, as well as competitions further down the line. Do you want to go pro?
Every time I step onto the mat, I want to showcase my ability to the maximum. The goal is to win the tournament in my weight class and make my way to the world tournament where I would again be victorious. Eventually, I want to go pro but I don't think I'm ready to move up yet. I still need to work on my BJJ and get a bit more comfortable. I think in about 2 years it will happen though.
Lastly, tell us about your team and what you like most about training at the Beta Academy.
What can't I say about this amazing gym and team?! All of those guys/gals are amazing. We all push each other to get better, and help out whenever we can. I don't think there is a gym that has mainly amateur fighters that train like we do. We may even rival some of the bigger gyms who train professionals when it comes to work ethic. We hold each other accountable and it's a beautiful thing.
What I love the most about Beta Academy is that instructors and teammates aren't afraid to tell each other what they think that they need to improve on. All advice is taken into consideration and there is very little ego involved, if any. We know how to have fun but we make sure we train hard too. It's a family, and I love all my brothers and sisters at Beta Academy.