Sure he spent years as a top-ranked bantamweight and can even boast of being one of UFC champion José Aldo’s first teachers, but Marcos “Lôro” Galvão knows he’ll have his work cut out for him when he faces Joe Warren in the Bellator 41 main event this Saturday in Yuma, Arizona. That’s why it was so startling to hear him say he’s taking the fight so seriously he’s “taken a three-month vacation.”
Odd as it sounded, Lôro wasn’t kidding. But neither was he overlooking the dangers inherent in facing a world champion wrestler like Warren – one who barged onto the MMA scene emphatically, taking out former WEC champion Chase Beebe and all-time great Kid Yamamoto in his first two outings and going on to wrecking-ball his way through the Bellator Featherweight GP. It just means Loro’s fighting career had taken a back seat to his teaching career – and that the fans can look forward to a great fight come Saturday night, with two virtuosos in their respective martial arts likely to put on a great main event.
It wasn’t long ago that Loro was at the pinnacle of the world MMA ranks. Before the WEC became the premier lighter-fighter promotion, the standout Jiu-Jitsu black belt (among numerous achievements in the gentle art, he once won successive world championships as a blue belt and a brown belt, skipping purple belt altogether) was a fixture atop the World Shooto bantamweight rankings, beating top-tier fighters of the time like Kenji Osawa and Fredson Paixão. Then, two WEC losses sandwiched around a draw in a Shooto World title challenge set him back in his bid to become the world’s number one bantamweight. After the disappointing end to his WEC tenure came the switch to teaching mode, move to New York, and three-fight unbeaten run as a featherweight.
“I feel so much better at this weight,” he said, shortly after winning the Ring of Combat featherweight title in December of last year. “I feel so much stronger, and I train a lot better.” Now being so pleased with the results obtained at his new weight, it would go to figure he’d be somewhat put off at having to face the champion of his new division at his new event but at a catch-weight closer to the one he just vacated. But Lôro’s chipper about the situation and happy he’s getting his shot:
“It’s a great opportunity for me. I don’t care that it’s not for the belt; I’m going to fight a champion in the main event and the event will be broadcast live on MTV2. I couldn’t ask for more,” he said. “He wanted this fight at a 137-lb catch-weight because he’s going to move down to try and win the bantamweight division, too. That’s fine, I can make bantamweight again. Here in America I learned the science behind making weight – it’s not so hard for me anymore,” he said, hinting at further changes since moving to North America.
Now in New York, where when not on vacation he teaches Jiu-Jitsu and MMA full time at Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro’s Manhattan academy, he no longer trains regularly with the fierce Nova União outfit where he used to spar daily with the UFC’s José Aldo and Renan Barão, former Sengoku champ Marlon Sandro, and seasoned strikers like Johnny Eduardo; but that doesn’t mean the level he trains at has dropped off any: “I train MMA with the Millers and their guys,” he said, referring to Jim Miller, who is now at the top of the stacked UFC lightweight food chain, and his brother Dan Miller, who just went the distance with the dreaded Nate Marquardt as a late replacement at UFC 128. “They’re so strong it’s unbelievable. They’re technical too, but they’re just ridiculously strong,” he said of his new workout partners, when asked whether he would be ready for the kind of strength a world champion wrestler like Warren brings to the table; then explaining what is different for him now that he is in the States:“Those guys know how to train smart: I’ve learned how to train just enough not to overtrain, how to eat just enough not to go hungry and still make weight, and how to make the weight cut without suffering so much. People here have it down to a science.”
But all the changes in approach and life he mentions urge the question: is there anything left of the methods that got him to the top of the Shooto rankings and into the WEC as a contender, during the previous incarnation of his career? The answer came as little wonder, given how the only man to stop Warren to date hails from Lôro’s hometown of Manaus and has the same martial arts background: “I’m still training Jiu-Jitsu. Bibiano (Fernandes) beat him – why can’t I?”
The other question begging to be asked we’ll just hang on to for if and when it happens: if he successfully puts the brakes on Warren’s dominant run in Bellator, will he take a real vacation?