Just this past weekend, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to Bellator Middleweight Champion Rafael Carvalho. Carvalho, fighting out of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, discussed his past as well as his future in the sport in an interview that simply can not be overlooked by any real fans of Bellator MMA. So, without further delay, let’s see what he had to say:
What first got you interested in MMA?
I first got interested in martial arts in my childhood. My brother was a jiu-jitsu black belt, so because of him I got interested in MMA.
What was your first fight like, and who was it against? If you lost, was it discouraging?
My first match didn’t go as I expected, I lost to a very good athlete, but today we train together at the same gym. That first loss didn’t make me “lower my guard” though, instead it motivated me, made me stronger.
How would you describe your fighting style?
I describe myself as a technical fighter, but at the same time aggressive.
Are there any other fighters out there who have been a particular influence to you, or who you look up to?
I always liked Mirko “Cro Cop’s” fighting style. His coldness and KO power inspired me a lot in the beginning of my career.
How does it feel to be champion of your weight class? Is there a lot of pressure? Would you think about trying to get a second belt?
I feel great being the champion in my category, I worked very hard and with the help of God I got here….. There will always be pressure when you are the Champion, I am the main target. It has never passed through my head to go after a second belt, but who knows in the near future I may try to win the belt in another category.
Recently, there has been an influx of fighters moving into Bellator from other leagues, for example Rory MacDonald, who are looking to claim some titles for themselves. How do you feel about all of this new blood in the water, and is there anyone you would like to fight in particular?
I think this influx is great, it shows that Bellator has a good reputation and good prestige. The fighters are looking at it “with good eyes” when they consider an organization change. And about Rory MacDonald, in case Rory decides to go up a weight category to try a shot at the belt, I believe it will give the weight category more value. But a fighter that I would really like to fight, that I see that deserves a shot, is Hisaki Kato.
Michael “Venom” Paige has been making quite a name for himself recently, and if he keeps on winning it looks like he may have a shot at the belt in the future. How would you feel about a potential match up with him?
I like Michael’s style, it’s a unique style. I see “with good eyes” a fight against him, but I wouldn’t let him do all that stuff that he does in the cage.
Possibly your most controversial fight was against Melvin Manhoef, when judges awarded you the win in a split decision at Bellator 155, allowing you to retain the Middleweight title. Is there anything you would like to say to fans about that fight?
I want to make it very clear that Manhoef didn’t do more than I did to take the title from me in that fight. I hope that at this next fight he will come at me, because if he doesn’t I will go at him and I don’t want to see nobody crying in the locker room after the fight.
You were supposed to meet Manhoef again at Bellator 168, but unfortunately that fight had to be cancelled due to injury. Is there any word on when we might be seeing you two in the cage again in the future?
This fight has been scheduled! Even hurt, I didn’t stop training, always focused exclusively on him!
Have you made any significant adjustments to your style since Bellator 155?
I haven’t change my style a lot, I just added a few small things and started using some moves again that I haven’t used in a while.
Aside from that legendary match up, what other fights stand out most in your mind, and why?
Every fight is important and has its own significance, so they all stand out in my mind, because without all of those past fights, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Is there anything else you would like to say to all of your fans out there that we didn’t get to cover today?
To the fans of MMA, I say, do not miss this fight (Carvalho vs Manhoef 2), it will be a historic one with the most beautiful KO in the MMA World. I am sorry for the last match with Manhoef. Thank you all!!!
Be sure to catch Rafael in his legendary rematch against Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 176 on April 8! And a big thanks to him for taking the time from his busy training schedule for this interview!