Chris Camozzi wanted a fight with a top 10 opponent, but he certainly didn’t expect it to come on two weeks’ notice.
When his manager called to tell him about a co-main-event opportunity with fellow middleweight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (17-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at next week’s UFC on FX 8 event, it was a shock. But Camozzi (19-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC) wasn’t going to turn it down for anything.
“I’ve been begging for it, so even with short notice, I don’t mind,” Camozzi told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “If you ask for something, you’ve got to be ready to take it.”
Camozzi, who’s won his past four UFC bouts, had just finished a training session in preparation for a bout with meet Rafael Natal at the May 18 event when he checked his cell phone.
“I had a bunch of missed calls from my management team,” he said. “I was expecting the worst. Any time I’ve got that many calls from my manager, it’s probably not good news.”
But it was. Souza was left without an opponent when Costa Phillippou was forced to withdraw due to an injury, and UFC officials decided to give him his wish. (Natal now faces newcomer Joao Zeferino.)
“We had a gameplan going for Natal,” Camozzi said. “Quite a bit of it will transfer over to fighting ‘Jacare.’ Obviously, I know I’m not a better straight jiu-jitsu guy than ‘Jacare,’ and no amount of training will get me to that level.”
Camozzi, however, didn’t rest up following his most recent bout, in which he bested Nick Ring by split decision at UFC 158 in Montreal.
“I’m in better shape than when I fought Nick,” he said. “I got home from Canada and just kept training.”
Confident that he’s sharper than before, Camozzi isn’t intimidated by Souza’s reputation as a top-flight middleweight.
“This is MMA; this isn’t straight jiu-jitsu,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a lot time, and I think I’m going to surprise people.”
Souza, a former Strikeforce champ and decorated grappler, makes his UFC debut at the event, which takes place at Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Souza is ranked No. 8 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA middleweight rankings. Camozzi, meanwhile, recently moved into an honorable mention slot.
“I with a win it definitely puts me in the top 10,” Camozzi said. “There are other guys ranked in the top 10 that never beat a top-10 opponent, so I think by me beating one, I should get to replace one of those guys.”
Or maybe just Souza, who’s won his past three bouts. Now a crisp striker in addition to being a renowned grappler, the Brazilian has been mentioned as a potential contender for middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Most fans would consider Camozzi a big underdog in the matchup, but he’s not bothered by that designation.
“I prefer it that way,” he said. “There’s no pressure for me. He’s ranked higher than me, so I have everything to gain.”
For the latest on UFC on FX 8, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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