Native of the Brazilian state of Bahia Rogerio Minotouro is riding high on a six-fight winning streak – he hasn’t lost since 2007. Better still, the 33-year-old fighter had an exemplary debut in the UFC, with a knockout over the heavy-hitting Luiz Banha. Still in the United States, Minotouro (18w, 3l) called up GRACIEMAG.com at 3 am. We missed that one, but we chased him down and had a chat with the bruiser. Top on the discussion agenda was a possible showdown with Forrest Griffin, who had his last win on the 21st, too. Here’s what he had to say:
I never expected to knock him out. Rogerio Minotouro
You managed a stunning knockout win over Banha. Before the bout, your muay thai coach Luiz Alves remarked about how well your striking preparation had been going…
I really had been working a lot on my striking with a lot of boxing. I focused on that and even took some criticism; the folks were saying I was training more boxing than other fundamentals. I never expected to knock him out, but I was under the impression the fight would play out standing. I respected him, if just because Banha is a really tough athlete, someone with a lot of will and who hits hard. I knew he was dangerous, which is why I worked so hard on striking – to put up a front.
Do you feel the crowd and promoters were impressed?
It was a great result for me and I won the best way I could. It was good because I debuted against an opponent with a name and I like to fight great adversaries, it just motivates me more in training. As it was my debut in the UFC, I feel it went as best it could. I’ve been wanting to fight there for a while – it’s now the world’s biggest event, where the world’s best fighters meet for the greatest challenges of their careers.
You had a great run at Pride, the former biggest event in the world. Do you now feel more mature and capable of making UFC history for it?
I see my career as being in a better place now. Nowadays, I’m certain I’m more mature, objective, I train more and have greater responsibilities. I currently have a team, and that greatens my obligation to everyone, and makes me train more. I want to train not just for my fights, but to help my teammates and my brothers. I’ve trained a lot with Rodrigo and improved my Jiu-Jitsu. My wrestling has improved, too; that’s a flaw I had, and I’ve managed to fix it. There’s nothing to say about the boxing. More so since I started training with Luiz Alvez (muay thai) and Dorea (boxing), and with sparring partners Cigano, Feijao, not to mention Rodrigo… In a nutshell, I have what I need to be in the UFC.
A lot of folks have been asking for a fight with Forrest Griffin, who beat Tito Ortiz the same night you debuted. What do you think of that?
It would be a good fight. Forrest is an aggressive guy who fights on his feet, and I like that. He also has excellent Jiu-Jitsu and absurd wind. It would be a really good fight.
How were you treated in your new home?
It was pure joy. I was really well received by the folks from the event. The whole time Dana would say, “Welcome to you new home.” I felt really comfortable with the treatment I received. All the employees welcomed me and said they had been waiting for me. Since Rodrigo does a good job and has a good relationship with everyone there, I felt the doors were already open.
What is your assessment of the light heavyweight division (under 94kg), which includes Lyoto, Tito, Shogun, Rashad and Thiago Silva, among others?
It’s the toughest category. It will be great and I’ll have fun. Let’s fight!