Danillo Villefort understands the pressure on his fight team.
The Blackzilians out of Imperial Athletics haven't exactly been lighting the world on fire lately, but he had been forced to watch from the sidelines the last 17 months while recovering from a pair of shoulder injuries.
As one of the original members of the star-studded fight team, he's put some of the pressure on himself to help turn it all around.
Finally healthy, "Indio" is looking to get his team off to a good start this weekend (March 23, 2013) when he battles The Ultimate Fighter season 11 finalist Kris McCray on the World Series of Fighting II preliminary card in Atlantic City. If he can put on the performance he knows he's capable of putting on, it could snowball into a terrific 4-0 weekend.
Villefort spoke to MMAmania.com during a guest appearance on The Verbal Submission where he talked about returning to fighting after a year and a half layoff, sparring with Tyrone Spong and doing his part to help end the Blackzilian's losing streak in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How does it feel be back after a year and a half away from fighting?
Danillo Villefort: It's been a long time. I never had such a big layoff like this, but finally I'm back and I'm happy. That's what matters.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I feel like you did the right thing by delaying your return because you had a pretty serious shoulder injury and you fought injured in your final Strikeforce fight. We've seen time and time again when fighters with shoulder injuries come back too soon, they're just not the same. Do you feel like you did it right?
Danillo Villefort: Yeah, shoulder is not easy to recover. It took me a while and after I was fine, I actually hurt my shoulder again and had to stay out of training for three more months. That's why it was such a long layoff but I'm finally back and I'm happy to be fighting for World Series and I just can't wait to jump in the cage.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your brother Yuri made his UFC debut and while he came out on the losing end of a decision, Dana White was extremely happy with his performance and it was a really fun fight. He'll definitely get another shot with UFC. What did you think of his fight, were you proud of him?
Danillo Villefort: Yeah I was proud of him. He passed the balls test. He showed everyone he's got a lot of balls. You're born with it or you're not born with it. There's a few things we've got to fix in his game, but he showed everybody he's an exciting fighter. He's still very young, only 21 and that's it. He'll get another opportunity soon and Dana was very happy with him. Dana actually came over to his locker and talked to him and congratulated him for the fight, but at the end of the day, we need to win. That's how we make the money. We love what we do, but we also need to make money and if we don't win, we don't make the money we should be making.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about this upcoming fight. Kris McCray has fought four times since the last time you competed. Is that a cause for concern for you?
Danillo Villefort: No, to me, I don't have concern about that. I've competed so much in my life, so much not just in MMA but in Brazilian jiu jitsu, judo, submission arts. I compete a lot. I'm very excited to be back but that doesn't really bother me. I know how it is to jump in a cage. I know how it feels. I'm ready to go and I will show all my family and friends that the Indio is back.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've read a couple of your interviews and you seem so pumped up to be back after the long layoff you even mentioned wanting to tear McCray's head off. You're really expecting to be bringing some violence, right?
Danillo Villefort: My friend, to be honest to you, I want to get back to my old style and get aggressive from the first minute to the last minute of the fight. I want to finish the fight. I want to do my best. As you just said, I will do my best to rip his head off because I know he will do the same. I'm pretty sure I will knock him out.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It seems like you've put a lot of time and effort into your striking training, from everything I've read. Can you talk about who you've been working with and what you've been doing to really take your striking to that next level?
Danillo Villefort: Yeah, I've been training a lot with coach Henry Joost, who was Tyrone Spong's coach and Peter Aerts' coach and he has been helping me a lot. That's without adding that I've been having my ass whooped really bad by Tyrone, which is good. I always say to my fans, there's no other way to improve your game and get better without getting beat up. You guys are going to see some new stuff, some new tricks and a lot of aggressiveness.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've talked a lot about Tyrone Spong beating you up in sparring. Do you ever get a chance to get a few good licks in or two against the elite kickboxer, any bragging rights?
Danillo Villefort: No, my friend. I'm not going to lie to you. Like 2-3 months ago, I wound up in the hospital with a concussion from sparring with him. I don't give a fuck though. I go hard with the little guys, with the big guys. They all know how I do. If you don't like the way I train, don't show up to train because I go hard. If you drop me, if I drop you, I don't care. We are professionals, we know what it takes and it is what it is. If I get hurt, fuck it, just go to the hospital.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know they aren't a part of the Blackzilian camp now, but what were some of the best parts of having Mike Van Arsdale and Mario Sperry as coaches?
Danillo Villefort: Van Arsdale was a very nice guy, very technical. Incredible wrestling and unfortunately we couldn't keep him here. We learned a lot and unfortunately, as soon as he left, our wrestling went down. Unfortunately he couldn't stay in Florida anymore. The same with Mario. He had a lot of experience and I was the one who made everything to try and get him to Florida because I worked with him back in the days when I trained with Brazilian Top Team and I know how hard he works and how motivated and how professional with the sport he is. The same thing, he has a lot of big business going on in Brazil and it affects him a lot and unfortunately he couldn't stay. I believe we're gonna work harder right now to improve our game and we bring in all the high level wrestling coach and the media will know about it pretty soon.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mention that the wrestling went down at your gym with the loss of Van Arsdale, do you worry at all that it could affect you against your upcoming opponent Kris McCray, who's a decent wrestler?
Danillo Villefort: The wrestling went down, but I didn't say my judo went down. I really trust in my judo techniques and I've fought some good wrestlers before and I was able to use my judo techniques. My brother Marcus will be in my corner and I have a lot of confidence about it. I will watch a couple videos of Kris McCray and even if we go to the ground, even if he takes me down, he'll have some surprises. I don't give a fuck if he takes me down. If he takes me down, he's gonna see hell on the ground.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You were pretty critical about the state of MMA refereeing the other night. I was wondering if you could go into more detail about that.
Danillo Villefort: It sucks man. To be honest with you, I don't like to talk about that because some referees and judges are gonna see this but that pissed me off. What happened is some people have no experience because they never fought before. They don't know what it is to be in the cage, they don't know when to stop a fight and sometimes they let a guy almost die in the cage when they take too long to stop because they have no experience. It pissed me off real bad what happened to Antonio Carvalho. He was almost knocked out but he got up with his hands up.
I'm not saying he would win the fight, he might have got knocked out right after but I think the referee messed up. He's a human being like we all are and they have rights to make a mistake, but every time we lose a fight, we go all the way to the back of the line. We work so hard. We spend money to get in shape, to cut weight, to pay trainers and then our guy get fucked up by the referee. That makes me so mad.
I don't like to even think about it because I had a bad experience in the UFC when the guy head butt me. It was accidental but it was right on top of my eyes, the blood was going down to my eyes and I said you got to clean out my eyes and the mother fucker stopped the fight and I got released from the UFC because of the referee. I don't like to even talk about it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your team has had a rough stretch in big fights as of late, but your the first fighter out of four on your team competing this weekend. Do you have any extra pressure on yourself to get things started off right for the Blackzilians?
Danillo Villefort: My friend, I wish I could be the first one in the cage. I'm not on the main card anyways so I wish I could be the first fight to help my teammates and try to make things work out. I don't care if I'm the first or the second, I just want to fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How do you see your upcoming fight against McCray playing out in your head?
Danillo Villefort: I think it will be a really tough fight. He's hungry and has a great opportunity in his hands. He'll come forward and I know it will be a great war. To be honest with you, I know I'll knock him out on Saturday. I don't know how I will do it, I just know that I will do it.
Danillo would like to thank Jaco Clothing for sponsoring him and his boy Josh Carey for the PR help. You can follow him on Twitter @IndiaMMA.