UFC on ESPN 53’s Cameron Saaiman reflects on first pro loss: ‘It was a tough pill to swallow’

LAS VEGAS – Cameron Saaiman enters UFC on ESPN 53 on the heels of his first professional defeat.

Saaiman (9-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) looks to bounce back Saturday from a decision loss to Christian Rodriguez back in October by defeating fellow prospect Payton Talbott (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) on the main card of UFC on ESPN 53.

“It was a tough pill to swallow,” Saaiman said at Wednesday’s media day. “Obviously, after that fight, I really thought I did enough to walk away with the win. Obviously, the judges didn’t think that. It was also quite heartbreaking. After the fight, I went to both my coaches and asked, ‘Do we have Round 1 and 3?’ and they were like, ‘Yeah, I think we do.’ I actually went to (Michael) Bisping at the time and asked, ‘Sir, we have Rounds 1 and 3, right?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, yeah. I think so.’ Yet the decision didn’t go my way.

“Afterward, I had the time to focus on some medical issues we had. I had a big surgery sorted out and after watching the fight I’m pretty proud of what we accomplished not only in the fight, but also the camp building up to that. I’m 23 years old, turning 24 in December. I want to be here for a long time, and in doing that looking at the bigger picture. So after every fight we assess where we can get better, and there’s obviously a lot of key points, and in the last six months we sorted out a lot of stuff, and you get to see that come fight night.”

Saaiman is technically still undefeated at bantamweight, given that the fight with Rodriguez took place at an 140-pound catch weight due to a weight miss by Rodriguez.

Still, there’s a lot he took from that defeat, and he’s excited to show his evolution against Talbott.

“I think this is probably the most excited I’ve ever been for a fight,” Saaiman said. “The moment we got this matchup, we were already in camp for someone else. Then we got the name. I watched his Dana White’s Contender Series, I watched that live, and then I watched his UFC debut as well back in South Africa and I saw a lot of social media hype about the guy. I was like, ‘Ok.’ The moment I saw a post on Instagram, I got the feeling that sooner or later we were going to meet each other, so I’m glad it’s happening now.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 53.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie