After going two years without stepping into the ring, Ricardo Arona returned to action at Bitetti Combat 4, at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanazinho gymnasium in September of 2009. However, during the fight with Marvin Eastman, the Jiu-Jitsu black belt ended up hurting his knee and had to undergo surgery. During a physiotherapy session, Arona spoke with GRACIEMAG.com. Besides addressing his recovery, he spoke of his chances of fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
How are talks between you and the UFC going?
What happened was that an opportunity arose and, when I return to fighting at the end of the year, after my knee recovers, I may fight in the UFC. But that’s just a possibility, an opportunity that came up and nothing concrete has happened yet.
Is this your greatest wish? Are you working towards that?
My objective is to fight in the UFC. I spoke with some agents, people I’m in contact with, and this opportunity may come about at the end of the year. For now nothing is set in stone. It’s just something that has been talked about that could be made viable. An opportunity.
Rogerio Minotouro is a friend of yours and fights in the same division you would be in (light heavyweight), should you sign with the UFC. Would that be a hindrance?
Rogerio has been in the same division with me before, at Pride, and we almost faced off in the GP. Ideally we would not face each other, have a fight between two friends who train together. Nobody wants to see that, not me. But, if all goes well, my plan for the end of the year is to be in the UFC and not face Rogerio. He’s my friend and, against him, I certainly would not like to fight.
They say the light heavyweight is the most tightly disputed division in the world, mainly in the UFC. Would winning it be the same as being the best in the world?
These days it’s really hard to tell who the best in the world is, if just because the best doesn’t always win. It’s really hard to say who the best in the world is and to maintain the post. Lyoto Machida is the champion of the division, but another fighter could show up, even another Brazilian, and beat him. There’s no saying the champion of one division is the best. He could very well be at that moment.
During all this time you’ve been away from the ring, just observing, what has changed in MMA?
In my opinion, seeing it from the outside, the sport has grown a lot throughout the planet. Las Vegas injected power into the event (UFC), which took on greater dimensions. The sport took over the world and today is much more professional. There’s also improvement in the athletes, the technical level of them. These days fighters train better. But I feel the best part is that the 10-minute round from the days of Pride no longer exists. It was really hard to get through that round and perform well thereafter. With three five-minute rounds athletes can let their games flow more. This way the fight is more exciting.
So, when should you really be back fighting again?
My knee is getting a lot better. My plan is to return in October, God willing, in the UFC. But, as I said, nothing is for sure yet. There was just a conversation that made me very hopeful.