One of the more dominant champions in the Bellator organization returns to the cage on the second night of fights set for Honolulu, Hawaii. At Bellator 213, Rafael Carvalho makes his first appearance since losing his middleweight title. In Honolulu, he welcomes Lyoto Machida to the Bellator cage in the night’s co-main event.
Carvalho recently came off a long run as the organizations’ middleweight champion. His reign began back in 2015 at Bellator 144 when he challenged the then undefeated Brandon Halsey for the vacant middleweight title. In only his third fight with Bellator, the Brazilian handed Halsey his first loss in form of second round TKO. Carvalho became the first champion outside the season format. 2015 was the first year that Bellator, under new leadership, abandoned the season format.
Before losing his title, Carvalho accumulated three defenses. Of those three defenses, two came by way of stoppage. One the notorious head kick KO over Melvin Manhoef. The loss of his title to Gegard Mousasi was only the second loss of his professional career. A win over the likes of Lyoto Machida would put the former champion right at the tip of the title conversation.
Carvalho spoke to MMASucka ahead of his co-main bout against the legendary Machida in form of e-mail exchange. The former champion had a massive deal of respect for his opponent and countrymen, Lyoto Machida. It is his belief that their contest will stand as the ‘Fight of the Night’. He also had great admiration for Bellator and the opportunities they continue to grant him. The Brazilian fighter spoke about these topics and more.
Check out the conversation below.
Q&A with Rafael Carvalho
Q: What are your thoughts on the matchup with Machida?
A: The fight will be decided on stand up will be 50% chance for each, in the end only one fighter will stand.
Q: You fought on the Bellator 200, now you are fighting on the first major MMA card held in Hawaii, is it special to you that Bellator is behind you, putting you in these important events?
A: I love Bellator, they are always here when I need it, so if they need me I will always be a loyal soldier.
Q: What was your reaction when you were told that you would be fighting in Hawaii?
A: It was really cool, I love Hawaii, and there are big names in the World MMA. It is a place of many spirits and the samurai will be incarnated on that night of battle.
Q: You had a dominant run as champion, do you feel like to win over Machida, puts you right back into the title picture for the middleweight division?
A: Yes, it was one of the reasons to accept this honored challenge. Dude this fight is worth more than the title to me. I will beat Machida a top 5 world fighter I’ll be the next challenger. It cannot be different.
Q: What do you think of all this new talent coming into Bellator? This will be your second consecutive opponent who is new to the roster.
A: I think it’s great. Now missing a GP we have a very strong division.
Q: Is it exciting to have all these new matches in the middleweight division?
A: Yes, no doubt the Bellator is growing in all categories of weights we have great names this is [the] top man!!!
Q: Do you think the lay-off that Lyoto Machida had due to his USADA will factor in this fight?
A: Machida has only fought three times since returning from his suspension. Look Machida was wronged, he’s a clean guy who respects the sport. I think he has a lot of experience and this will not affect his performance. I believe it will even be advantageous for him.
Q: Is there anything special to you about fighting a guy like Lyoto Machida?
A: Of course, Machida is a legend in MMA and fellow countrymen. Yes, respect. This guy did a lot for MMA, he is still a great fighter, he is a samurai and we are going to (be) the fight of the night on this card.