Rafael Carvalho's only had one fight in the Bellator cage thus far, but it was one heck of a debut.
Carvalho wound up in the coveted co-main event slot underneath Doug Marshall and Melvin Manhoef, and made the most of his opportunity by knocking off "The Professional Predator" Brian Rogers in the first round.
It may have been a surprising result to some given that Rogers -- and his flying knees -- have become a staple of Bellator MMA highlight reels, but the 28-year-old fighter from Rio De Janeiro was 9-1 going into the bout with (technical) knockout wins in eight fights.
In fact, the only fight that Carvalho has lost in his career to date was his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut going against Julio Cesar Araujo Fernandes in Brazil. If that was an amateur bout, we'd be talking about "the undefeated" Rafael Carvalho right now.
Carvalho is ready to take on formidable kickboxing and MMA veteran Joe Schilling, the same man who got the 2014 "Knockout of the Year" against Melvin Manhoef. Carvalho talks about that fight in today's interview with MMA Mania and more - starting with how he felt after his successful debut against Brian Rogers last September.
"My first card in Bellator, in the co-main event in America (I got) a KO. It was very big for me. My name is bigger (now). I feel good about fighting for my ranking in Bellator. It was very strong for my name and history in Bellator."
His legacy continues to grow thanks to the bodies of defeated foes left in his wake, and Carvalho says that we can expect more of the same against Joe Schilling on April 10th, though he's prepared for anything that happens.
"My explosion in power in all things (comes from) the same style, the same strategy. I'm using my muay thai (but) maybe it's possible the fight can go to the ground and every possibility is open. My preparation for this fight (will be) the same preparation with focus and determination."
His opponent Joe Schilling alluded to the same possibility in his interview with MMA Mania, saying Carvalho would go for a takedown at some point, "maybe it's right away, maybe it's after I tag him." Carvalho's response is that he'll try to make the fight one fans want to see.
"Joe Schilling's wrong about the fight. I'm a striker. Joe's a striker. All the people like a striking fight. The people root for a stand-up. It's not possible because I'm a better muay thai fighter than Joe Schilling."
Giving his kickboxing pedigree (18-7) Schilling would no doubt disagree, but for Carvalho the fight is exactly the same regardless of whether Schilling wants a kickboxing or a MMA fight.
"There's no difference in Joe Schilling fighting muay thai or MMA. Same guy. He's an aggressive stand up fighter. My preparation is the same whether muay thai or the (cage)."
Carvalho offered these final words to Schilling in advance of their fight on Friday night.
"For me it's important to live in the moment. If Joe Schilling shows me anything different in the fight, I'll (still) live in this moment. It's important for me to go to the fight and beat Joe Schilling in any situation."
Rafael Carvalho is ready for that test on April 10th at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, California. Our thanks to Carvalho's translator Christopher for his help with today's interview. Quotes modified from third person to first person can be compared to our audio recording below. MMA Mania fight coverage of Bellator 136 continues all week with weigh-ins, preliminary bouts and live results for the televised Spike TV card!