Roberto Satoshi de Souza cements himself as the inaugural Rizin FF lightweight champion.
The Jiu-Jitsu savant secured a first-round triangle choke victory over Tofiq Musayev at Rizin 28. Seventy-two seconds was all it took to secure the victory over the Rizin Lightweight Grand Prix champion at the mid-June Tokyo Dome show.
A brief break was taken from de Souza relaxing with his young kids to chat with me after this recent title victory. Excerpts from our conversation can be found below.
Roberto Satoshi de Souza
Garnering an emphatic victory that was apparently an underdog win in the eyes of many
“I feel so happy. This fight for me is very important. A lot of people didn’t believe I can win this fight. It’s funny because a lot of people on Instagram were like who you think will win? And a lot of people put 95% for him, just for me like 5%. This changed my life. For sure this fight changed my life.”
Roberto Satoshi de Souza continued, “Really for this fight, I trained a lot for striking because I think maybe in the first round, I can put him in the ground. In fights before, nobody can put him in the ground. But I think man, I need to make him a little bit tired. And maybe in the second round, I can move it in the ground. But really, my plan is to put him in the ground. And when he tries to get up, I go to the back for the taking the choke. But in the fight, sometimes the plan changes.”
“And when the fight starts, I just try…His leg is so strong too that I pulled the guard after that. And I go the triangle. I trained this a lot too. My students Kleber (Koike) trained a lot our triangle too. I trained the triangle too but I really think I go finish the fight in the back choke. And I tell this a lot. If I have one chance, for sure I finish the fight and this happened. When I have one chance. When he makes one mistake, I can finish the fight.”
The incredible outpouring of emotion with his team Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu reacting to the victory
“I think for sure the team. My students Kleber (Koike) and my brother. If I don’t train with these guys if I don’t train at Bonsai, for sure I wouldn’t have won this fight. I think more important than how much harder you’re training, it’s important who is around you. This is so important too. All-time in the training, in the fight, I remember how much harder I train with my friends. It’s like I tell you that a lot of people don’t believe in me but I don’t care.”
“I know the people that train with me, live with me, stay around with me. My students too. These guys train so hard with me and believe I can win. And for these guys, I fight. For these guys, for my family. For the people who believe in me, this so important. I think this moves me for being stronger (and) better. Still moving me for the better people, a better fighter. And my life, for sure.”
Rizin in the Tokyo Dome with Rizin 28 and this being the first time for combat sports there in years
“Really, I dream. I remember when I’m more young, I look at PRIDE in Brazil. And I look at Minotauro and Wanderlei Silva. Look at the Tokyo Dome thinking ‘man, this is amazing’. It’s the biggest place for MMA fighters to fight in Japan. It’s funny because I live here now 11 years, but I never go inside the Tokyo Dome. Before you know, just for the day for the fight. And it’s funny but, man, when you go inside the Tokyo Dome, you feel the difference.”
“This is happy too because when I won the fight when people talked to me, people tell this a lot, people feel the PRIDE has come back. The feel is like before when Minotauro and Wanderlei Silva fight again. I’m so happy for this too, you know. I think I put Japanese MMA, the fuse back a little bit. This is really a dream.”
Weaving himself into the fabric of that Silva + Nogueira lineage of high-level Japanese MMA shows
“I think everything will make, the better. Like, people don’t believe in me. This title match fight in the Tokyo Dome. I think this is making them more important for me.”
Rizin Fighting Federation
The desired timeline for his next prizefight
“The boss from Rizin called me to fight in September. But I’m a little bit tired. I tell this all for the people, sometimes the fight is short. Like one minute or two minutes, but I train three months for this fight. My body is good, but my mind is tired. Like, I fight in March, I fight now in July. Really I don’t fight in the last year in December. My student Kleber (Koike) fight. By that, I train with him.”
“So I train a long time. I think I don’t stop training with them for almost 10 months. I keep training for Kleber (Koike) fight and after I fight in the fight for the title shot, I need a little bit of rest and all that. Maybe, I don’t know. But maybe just in December, I’m gonna fight in the Rizin again. But now I want my body, my mind, and to enjoy a little bit with my kids. This time for rest. I need to enjoy a little bit this moment now. I am the champion (laughs).”
Parting thoughts for Roberto Satoshi de Souza
“I just want to say thank you for the people. The people who believe and people who don’t believe in me. I think that both are important. The people that believe in me, make me more strong. The people who don’t believe in me, I’m made more strong when I prove the people wrong too. I’m not just a debut fighter. For sure, I am MMA fighter. And I get the belt, but this is not finished. I start like that. Just prove for the people, I’m really champion. I want to stay this belt, Rizin belt in Japan for a long time.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.