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Rafael Carvalho says fighters need respect for the sport, the fans, and their partners

Rafael Carvalho,
Rafael Carvalho
Bellator MMA,

Bellator 213 “MacFarlane vs. Letourneau” takes place Saturday, December 15, 2018 at Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. The undefeated champion Ilima-Lei MacFarlane (8-0) will make her second Flyweight title defense against former UFC contender Valerie Letourneau (10-6) in the main event.

Before that fight can take place mixed martial arts legend Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (24-8) will take on former Bellator Middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho (15-2) in a critical Middleweight bout on the main card.

Machida left UFC with a two fight win streak in tow and would obviously like to make it three in a row in his promotional debut. What’s more if “The Dragon” were to take out a former champion in his first Bellator fight, he’d immediately be in contention to face Gegard Mousasi (or possibly Rafael Lovato Jr.) at a future date down the road.

For Carvalho the stakes are as high as De La Soul. A second straight loss would greatly diminish any chance he has to avenge his title loss to Mousasi and would move him far down the ladder of contenders in an increasingly stacked Middleweight division.

Today Rafael Carvalho speaks to us via e-mail as his translator provided back and forth answers about this critical fight with Lyoto Machida. My first question — how are you feeling following your loss at Bellator 200?

“I’m not frustrated (by it), but (I’m) disappointed to have done a bad fight, maybe the worst fight I’ve ever done.”

One thing that Carvalho has consistently showed me outside of his fights is straightforward blunt honesty, so I asked him to expound on what he could have done differently in London.

“I believed that he would face me standing, (and I) did not expect him to go to the ground so fast. Yes I would have done what my coaches asked for — and I was stupid not to hear them.”

It’s that kind of unapologetic self-assessment that leads me to believe he’s well prepared for his next bout against “The Dragon.”

“We are attentive (to detail). Machida has great wrestling and (he is) a dangerous striker. Lyoto is a very respectful fighter, a samurai and everyone in Brazil likes him very much.”

I asked Carvalho if there was more pressure on Machida than him, particularly given it’s his promotional debut and (as Carvalho said himself) he’s much admired back in Brazil.

“Lyoto is a very experienced fighter, he will not suffer any pressure, he goes to the cage and will have a great fight. I have no pressure (to face him either). I will defeat him and I will have my rematch next. (It is) an honor, it is very important to beat Lyoto. He is a top world fighter, a former UFC champion, (this) will surely be a very big feat in my career.”

There’s no question it would be the most significant win of an already impressive run that has saw him successfully defend the Middleweight belt three times before the Mousasi fight. Meanwhile Machida’s best run was at 205 — I asked Carvalho if he’s better there.

“I loved watching him struggling in 205. Early in his career he was fighting Heavyweights, but it was at 205 that he hit his target. I believe that at 185 he can not (reach) 100% performance (against me).”

Bold words to be sure but it’s not surprising that Carvalho is confident coming into the fight. He’s had a lot of success in his camp getting ready for Lyoto Machida.

“My BJJ, I trained a lot, until I won two BJJ championships.”

But what does a man like Carvalho do when he’s not winning titles or jiu-jitsu tournaments?

“To play with my dog ​​was one (way to relax), but now it’s to stay with my son Rafael Carvalho de Souza Filho. I (also) look forward to seeing nature. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

How does Carvalho recommend people train to fight or to get into better shape?

“Nothing in particular, the only thing is that you need to balance what you eat, and consume lots of water before, during and after workouts.”

Sensible advice. I also asked Carvalho thinks the sport of mixed martial arts has changed since it went mainstream.

“The vale tudo started in Brazil with the Gracie family at 80 years ago and since this time there were fights in Brazil. Rorion — one of the sons of Helio Gracie — brought the whole vale tudo to America and here was transformed into MMA. From 1993 to here there was a huge advance and the every year the sport is (more) modernized. I believe that in ten years we will be in a new era and we will be in the whole world.”

That’s not hard to imagine given how much it has evolved in the last ten years alone. I also asked Carvalho if the sport needs to do anything about fighters who beat up their partners.

“Ethics is respect. We are samurais, we are not gladiators. (Abusers should not) be banned but punished. We need respect. You can promote a fight with respect — you only need to use intelligence.”

In conclusion I asked Carvalho if he had any parting words for his opponent Lyoto Machida at Bellator 213.

“I want to thank him for the opportunity, it’s a great honor to fight him in Hawaii, it could not be a (better) place. I wish him good luck.”

Complete Bellator MMA coverage of “MacFarlane vs. Letourneau” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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