Rafael Cavalcante: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
The Strikeforce light heavyweight champion knew well in advance of Dan Henderson and Renato Sobral’s showdown -- which ended with a decisive-first round knockout from Henderson -- that the winner was likely to receive a shot at his belt in the coming year.
With his first title defense now lined up, Cavalcante discussed with Sherdog.com his thoughts on Henderson, his cornering of training partners Anderson Silva and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and his plans for the holidays (or lack thereof).
Cavalcante: I expect a war. He’s a tough athlete and has great knowledge of the ring. Thank God we have three guys on our team who have fought with him and we’ll build a strategy. I’m training for this fight for five weeks and certainly will get there prepared. Again, I will defend Brazil and show once again that I am proud of being Brazilian.
Cavalcante: Yes, I will train until the date of the fight. By the end of February, God willing, I’ll be well-prepared. I want to be well-prepared for this fight. Let’s go to war, because this athlete is very tough.
Cavalcante: Christmas, New Year and Carnival are over for me.
Cavalcante: I think he’s a very experienced fighter and knows a lot in the ring. He is a complete athlete and very tough. He is a great wrestler and is showing great evolution in the standup. On the ground, he’s no fool. We have to get there well prepared and never underestimate our opponents. Surely, it will be a tough fight, like all my other fights have been. I want to show that if I’m fighting for the belt or not, I’ll always be thinking about my next fight. That’s my next goal, to defeat Dan Henderson.
Cavalcante: It would be very cool. Hopefully we fight at the same event, doing our preparation and training together. With this team of stars that we have -- me, Anderson Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Ronaldo Souza, Andre Galvao, who is out of the country, but he is a part of our team and will come here to give me a hand. I will also have Fabio Maldonado, among others. We have a great team and, for sure, with this unity and strength, we will bring another victory.
Cavalcante: This year was very good. I reached another goal and was able to test myself several times. That’s not for anyone else, but for me. I can really see that what I’m doing is working, and I’m improving in some aspects. I corrected several errors and that was most important this year. We have to look back on everything that has happened and fix what went wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I think I’ve been fixing up some things, but I still have a lot to fix. It’s very difficult to train everything together. When you begin to train more boxing, your wrestling worsens. You focus on your wrestling, and then your BJJ gets worse. You have to be constantly fixing. This is very difficult, but we’ll get it.
Cavalcante: I do all my training here at X-Gym in Brazil. We haven’t discussed the strategy yet, but I’ve already more or less formed it in my head. I’ll still sit down with all my training partners and coaches and see what they think. I don’t have anything specific, but I’ll definitely do specific training for him.
Cavalcante: I’ll be there with him and I think this fight will be a great. Vitor is a very dangerous and explosive athlete. It’s gonna be a great fight and I hope that Anderson continues as champion. We have had the opportunity to train together several times. But at the end of the day, it's Team Nogueira. We all wear the same jersey and it’s Team Nogueira’s jersey, and God willing, we're gonna come back only with victories.
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Cavalcante: We are training together. We are always together for everything. Rogerio has evolved a lot since his last fight and everyone is talking about it. God willing, he will also get another victory. Tito Ortiz is a tough athlete and is one of the icons of the UFC.
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