Although he was satisfied with his short-notice UFC debut, Oliver “The Future” Enkamp realizes that there are many improvements to be made if he wants to stick around and compete with the best.
The 26-year-old stepped in and replaced Emil Meek in a contest with Nordine Taleb at UFC Fight Night 109. Despite showcasing glimpses of his creative striking ability, Enkamp was never able to get all of his shots firing and instead played second fiddle to the veteran. In the end, it was Taleb who walked away with a unanimous decision victory after controlling the bout with consistent pressure.
Although the result wasn’t in his favor, Enkamp shared with The Body Lock that he was “happy with the fight.”
“I think it was the best that I could do with such short notice and such short preparation time. Obviously, a win would have been sweeter. But, I think it was a good fight anyway.”
With less than two weeks to prepare for Taleb, Enkamp noted that there were some major challenges he had to overcome before even stepping inside the UFC’s Octagon.
The “coolest two weeks” of his life
Despite the assistance of his brother, Enkamp was overloaded with tasks in the lead-up to his debut with the organization. Not only did he need to improve his physical ability and create some sort of strategy for his opponent, but he also needed to complete the required paperwork.
“It was the most stressful, but also the coolest two weeks of my life,” Enkamp explained.
“It was a lot to do in a short time. First thing I had to do was get my cardio up so that I could manage three five minutes round at a high pace. The second thing was that I had a bunch of papers on my desk like medicals and all of this stuff that I needed to do. I had to read through contracts. Everything just came on such short notice, so it was really stressful.”
Although Enkamp doesn’t take any time away from training, he explained that there is a significant difference between “being in shape compared to being in fight shape.” Enkamp’s clear priority was improving his overall physical ability before he stepped in there.
“We just had to do the best that we could in the situation.”
“I didn’t have enough time to put up a gameplan, so I just looked up some videos of my opponent and had a bit of a picture of how he likes to fight. I just went in there and did my thing.”
The importance of visualization
Those who saw Enkamp’s UFC debut certainly wouldn’t have pictured him as someone who was dealing with a “stressful” lead-up to the fight. When he stepped into the Octagon, Enkamp was calm, patient, and seemingly very comfortable in there with the super-aggressive Taleb.
Enkamp explained that his ability to stay relaxed was mainly due to the role of visualization.
“I was so calm and relaxed because I had done a lot of visualization and prepared mentally by seeing and hearing and thinking about all the sounds and noises that will be in there by visualizing the fight and the gameplan. So, when I was standing there ready for the walkout I had a normal heart rate and I just felt joy. No anxiety or nothing, just the joy of being there and having the audience on my side. It was the only place in the world where I wanted to be. That was the thing that I really liked most about my performance – the mental aspect.”
A new environment
But as much as there were positive notes to take away from his debut, there were a handful of aspects to Enkamp’s game that certainly required attention if he was to be a legitimate threat in the division.
In particular, Enkamp was never able to let loose with his devastating arsenal of kicks because Taleb kept backing him into the cage. Without sufficient room to operate, Enkamp was instead smothered by his opponent and found it difficult to get his strikes going.
In our interview, Enkamp detailed that he “hadn’t been training in an Octagon that much,” prior to UFC Fight Night 109.
But now, the Swede is focusing on improving his ability to steer his opponent inside the Octagon, much like other karate-based fighters such as Stephen Thompson.
“I wasn’t really aware of how I was using the canvas and like pushing the fight in the octagon, so I often ended up on the fence. With my back to the fence, and when I managed to get him away, I would just step back. I didn’t really realize where I was standing in the middle of the octagon. So, that’s one of the things I’ve been working on. Steering my opponent, and more tactics with the positioning.”
In addition to manipulating the movement of his adversary, Enkamp is now also focused on applying more effective pressure.
“And also, with that [Octagon control] comes pressure fighting. Using more pressure and not only when going forward and attacking, but also when I’m countering. So, those are probably the two biggest things I learned from the fight.”
Another noticeable outcome of Enkamp’s UFC debut was that he looked to be relatively small for the welterweight division. In a category that is filled with monsters such as Tyron Woodley, Enkamp has prioritized putting on extra weight in the time between his two fights.
“I’ve been putting on weight pretty quickly. I’ve been training with five extra kilograms for a couple of months. So now, when I started this fight camp and done more cardio and conditioning I have started to drop down again. But I still feel the speed and power really increased from training with that extra mass. And now, I feel light and fast again, as I want to because my style isn’t really built upon strength and raw power but more speed and technique.”
With some added muscle to his frame and a tagline of “speed kills,” Enkamp will certainly be an increasingly challenging puzzle in the welterweight division.
Fighting Danny Roberts
Looking ahead to his second appearance inside the UFC’s Octagon, “The Future” believes that Danny Roberts makes for a “great matchup.”
“I believe that we look pretty similar in our physiques. He’s also pretty lanky and tall. He’s coming from a striking background, like I do. So, I think it’s going to be very entertaining for the fans and also he has five fights already in the UFC. So for me, it’s a good step up in the rankings with a victory from this. I’m excited. They made a great matchup.”
Oliver Enkamp vs. Danny Roberts is a scheduled fight on the UFC Fight Pass Prelims for UFC Fight Night 127 in London, England.
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.