Ronaldo “Jacare” made his UFC debut in May with a beautiful submission of Chris Camozzi, and climbed to fifth on the UFC middleweight rankings. In September, the Jiu-Jitsu fighter has a new challenge in facing former title challenger Yushin Okami.
Check out our full interview with the UFC athlete, who spoke about the upcoming duel, his friendship with Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva’s challenge on Saturday against Chris Weidman.
GRACIEMAG: Jacare, in Strikeforce you were practically asking to fight. Now in the UFC, after the victory over Camozzi, you had a well deserved vacation and now you come back with a top-ranking fighter. How do you see it going?
RONALDO JACARÉ: It is a great pleasure to be always fighting. It is something that I was asking for and now it’s happening, besides being in the biggest MMA event in the world. I’m glad to be valued by the UFC and even happier to face one of the top of my class, Okami. I’m 100 percent focused to do an excellent job and to grab this victory. I was quite thrilled when Dana White said at the press conference of UFC 160 that I would face Okami. At the time, there wasn’t a date for it, nothing. I thought, “Hey, the boss liked my work.” What I can say is that I promise to be better than the last time, I promise to do my best and promise to do have a great fight.”
Dana White said that Jiu-Jitsu competitions are boring. Do you believe you are one of the guys who came to prove that the gentle art is something that is worth taking into MMA?
I understand what he said. Often, in Jiu-Jitsu, you get tied up in a fight for 10 minutes. But in MMA it’s different. Jiu-Jitsu is beautiful to see as much as a knockout in a standing-up fight.
What’s the strategy to face Okami?
I’m have a strategy set up for him. Okami is a complete athlete, specialized in the clinch. He is also left-handed, strokes a lot and I’ll be attentive to this. But inside the Octagon, I will try to perform a submission. I’m hoping he will grab me and throw me on the ground. If that happens, I’ll use what I have to offer, which is my Jiu-Jitsu.
Did you expect the support you received from fans in Jaragua do Sul?
I was very surprised. I was focused, prepared physically and mentally. I knew I would make a good fight. But when I saw that crowd cheering for me I was very touched. Many people had never seen me fighting. When I was Strikeforce champ, people started to know me now. This shows the greatness that is the UFC. For me, it was the fight of the night, the premier of the night, and the submission of the night.
After UFC on FX, we noticed your closeness to Vitor Belfort. Now you are closely ranked in the middleweight division. Would you face him?
Yes, I would fight him. He is a very professional guy, and so am I. Whether or not we fight, our closeness will continue. I think the position that Belfort achieved is more than deserved. He fought hard, he is a God’s person, he is a man who seeks to improve and evolve in everything. He renewed himself, it is not common for athletes of his age. He really is a “phenomenon.”
Speaking about the title fight that happens this Saturday between champion Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman, how do you see this fight going?
I think everyone has the chance of becoming a champion. With Weidman it’s no different. He has his possibilities, but people have to see that Anderson is the clear favorite for this fight. Weidman has weapons to win the fight, but I think it’s nonsense saying that Anderson is in danger on the ground. I have trained with him and I can guarantee that he is a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and knows the ground game well. Weidman might even complicate the fight on the ground, but submitting I think it is very difficult.
If you were to bet your money?
I’d bet on Anderson, of course. I don’t want to lose my money (laughs).