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Just as he was enjoying considerable success in his MMA career that culminated in the Strikeforce light heavyweight title in 2010, Rafael Cavalcante witnessed his career take a drastic turn after being signed by the UFC in 2013. The Brazilian striker lost four of his five fights for the organization, which caused his release in 2016 and raised rumors that the veteran could be hanging up his gloves.
However, contrary to what some observers thought after more than 16 months without a fight, ”Feijão” didn’t simply dismiss retirement talk, but revealed he will debut for Bellator on July 1 at World Fight Tour 7: Road to Bellator in Gran Canaria, Spain.
Not having fought since February 2016 when he lost a decision to Ovince Saint Preux, Cavalcante will have the chance to get his career back on track. His opponent is slated to be Daniel Könecke, an English-German athlete who debuted for Bellator with a submission defeat last May.
Aiming to end his current three-fight losing streak, the heavy-handed light heavyweight believes he has checked all the boxes to do so. Having maintained the belief that he would soon return to competition, Cavalcante said he prepared intensely over the last few months.
"After my last fight in 2016, I didn’t retire and I kept training, but I didn’t continue [my contract] with the UFC”, Cavalcante said. “I waited for a good opportunity to appear, I restructured my training, trained hard and I will return to MMA against Dan Könecke on July 1 at Road to Bellator, which will take place on the Canary Islands.
“We always have to try to keep the machine running in the best way possible. I didn’t stop [training for] a month, I did sparring two to three times a week. I know this is not fighting, it's not the same thing, but a well-made sparring almost comes close to a fight. And thank God Team Nogueira offers me this. I was preparing for a comeback."
Confident that there is still time left to establish himself as one of the greatest Brazilians in the sport, the 36-year-old said he didn’t keep any frustration about his run in the UFC between 2013 and 2016. That is because despite having lost four of his five bouts, the light heavyweight takes solace in that he always took to the Octagon to give the fans a show.
"I tried, I always did my best and anyone who watches my fights knows that”, Cavalcante said. “Fights I lost I still won Fight of the Night. I'm always in there to leave everything in there. I always lost or won by knockout. I only have a few fights that went the distance. That's what I'm doing, I’m very resilient and I’m always trying to evolve. You fall, but you get up all the time. My determination and purpose will never leave me."
In addition to highlighting the excitement with his Bellator debut, albeit in a minor event, and claiming that he doesn’t dwell on his last few fights, Cavalcante made a point of ensuring that his failed anti-doping test after the fight against Mike Kyle in 2012 – his most recent fight before heading to the UFC – had nothing to do with his current negative streak.
"Anti-doping definitely has not disrupted my career, and what affects performance is training”, Cavalcante said. “Regardless of whether the person does drugs or not, what counts is your training. I think that this war on doping doesn’t really disturb athlete's longevity in the sport, even if performances drop a bit. But we also had Randy Couture, who showed that quality of life, nutrition and training [also] are responsible for longevity.
"There are two versions of [hormone] treatment, and we must follow the approved one. There is nothing to discuss about what might or might not be okay. We have to try and do as the athletic commission allows."
Rafael Cavalcante Confident Road To Bellator Event Ignites Comeback
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