Rafael Carvalho

Former champion Rafael Carvalho hoping Bellator does middleweight grand prix

Former Bellator MMA middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho will welcome former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida as ‘The Dragon’ makes his promotional debut at Bellator 213 next weekend in Hawaii. MyMMANews had the opportunity to speak with Carvalho about his opportunity to test himself against a fellow world champion.

MyMMANews – You are slated to fight a former world champion in Lyoto Machida when he makes his Bellator MMA debut against you at Bellator 213 on December 15. Do you think that Machida made a mistake in signing to fight you in his debut with the organization? Do you think he is looking at you as a stepping stone?

Rafael Carvalho – “No, absolutely not. Bellator wanted this fight, and I like it. We accept because it’s a great fight for Bellator fans.”

MyMMANews – Your loss to Gegard Mousasi was the first time you tasted defeat in seven years, since 2011 when you made your professional MMA debut. What did you learn about yourself as a fighter in the loss to Mousasi and what will you change if anything for Machida?

Carvalho –I had a plan to fight with Mousasi, however I decided to change that plan and I did not listen to my coaches. The lesson is listen and do what your coach asked you to do. I could not kick Mousasi’s body in round one.”

MyMMANews – You are the former Bellator MMA middleweight champion. You have successfully defended your title three times. Does a win over Machida next weekend put you back in contention for a rematch with Mousasi?

Carvalho – “Yes. It was one of the reasons I agreed to fight Machida. I’m going to beat Machida and then I’ll have my rematch with Moussasi.”

MyMMANews – We have seen Bellator MMA move towards the way of the Grand Prix tournament style with both the heavyweight and now welterweight tournaments taking place. Is this something you would like to see take place at 185 pounds?

Carvalho – “I love tournaments. I hope (Scott) Coker and (Rich) Chou do it in 185-pounds also. We have great fighters in the 185-pounds now.”

MyMMANews – Last question. You are tied for most middleweight title defenses in Bellator history. Where do you see yourself and your place in history among Brazilian mixed martial artists?

Carvalho – “In Brazil I am considered a top fighter. But our media does not value fighters outside the UFC. Bellator needs to be in Brazil this will change this concept and will be very good for all the great Brazilian fighters at Bellator.”