ISTANBUL -- Saulo Cavalari sat quietly during Thursday's GLORY 15 press conference at Hotel Suadiye and wasn't asked a question until the media session was almost over. As expected, Gokhan Saki received the lion's share of media attention among the four light heavyweight tournament participants, followed by Tyrone Spong and then Nathan Corbett.
The 24-year-old Brazilian phenom has only fought twice for the GLORY promotion and both times he's had his hand raised in victory. First was a hard-fought victory via decision over savvy veteran Filip Verlinden at GLORY 11: "Chicago." The next was by sending Mourad Bouzidi out on a stretcher after a vicious overhand right in the first round at GLORY 12 in New York.
"He is a real GLORY style fighter, because he has knockout power in both hands. That's why he was selected," GLORY matchmaker Cor Hemmers told reporters at Thursday's GLORY 15 press conference at the Hotel Suadiye.
The GLORY tournaments are tailor made for a young dark horse with heavy hands like Cavalari. All eyes and attention are always on the favorites, in this instance: Saki and Spong, but a lot of the time an unexpected performance occurs, and an underdog rises to the occasion to win the whole thing, or knock off a favorite in the opening round.
The young Brazilian is in the limelight now and he is still learning how to embrace it. This fight in the opening round against Spong will no doubt be the fight of his life thus far in his career and it means a lot to him.
"I am very happy and I have worked my whole life for this moment and this opportunity in GLORY," Cavalari told MMAmania.com through his translator after Thursday's press conference concluded.
"Cassius Clay" hails from Curitiba, Brazil, home to MMA legends Anderson Silva and Wanderlei Silva. The 2-0 GLORY light heavyweight trains under Fernando Falkenbach, who has trained Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Rafael Teixeira, Thiago "Pitbull" Alves and many others.
Like any of the four fighters in the tournament, Cavalari is two wins away from winning the GLORY light heavyweight championship and earning $200,000 in prize money.
Is he thinking about who he may face in the final if he gets past Spong?
"I am focused only on Tyrone," he said adamantly. "Tyrone's boxing is very good and very dangerous."
On the flip side, his opponent, the No. 1-ranked GLORY lightweight Spong, was asked at Thursday's presser about meeting Saki in the final. He made it clear his focus was only on the first round match up, not on a potential match up against Saki.
"I don't know if I'm going to face Gokhan in the final," Spong told MMAmania.com. "I have a first fight, and that's against Saulo Cavalari. I don't overlook him. He's a very dangerous opponent."
"He's dangerous because he's a very young and hungry fighter. I'm not too old myself, but I hold the number one position right now in the rankings. Everybody is gunning for my place, my spot, so that makes him a dangerous fighter. He has nothing to lose. It's the biggest fight of his career, so I have to be sharp."
Spong is correct, as the 24-year-old Thai Brasil fighter is in a win-win situation. He isn't expected to win, so he he can come out guns blazing and try to overwhelm Spong.
That is something he said he intends to do. His key to victory?
"Pressure all the time."