Marcos “Ratinho” Santana is set to make his professional debut this month when he faces Ruel Catalan at ONE: Dynasty of Champions in Guangzhou. The Brazilian might never have competed in MMA before, but has plenty of experience to draw on as he prepares to step inside the cage for the first time.
“I have been doing BJJ for around 20 years, I am a black belt and I won a silver medal at the world championships. I’ve trained with several MMA fighters and helped in camps, but I never fought myself because I’ve always had other priorities in life, such as work and study.”
Asian MMA will always have a special allure for Brazilians who were brought up seeing videos of Rickson and Renzo Gracie fighting in Japan. Later on, the likes of Wanderlei Silva and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua would find fame fighting for Pride. Santana has fond memories of this era.
“At that time, I used to train at the Brazilian Top Team and I could see how competitive they were with Chute Boxe. I believe that time helped shaped the MMA culture we have today. It was a very exciting time watching Pride and I feel excited to be fighting in Asia, as this is something that I always wanted to do.”
While Santana is making his MMA debut relatively late in life at the age of 28, he is far from a newcomer to the sport and says he has followed it since well before it burst onto the mainstream.
Santana initially came to Asia to work in the UAE and was coaching the Presidential Guard there, but finally decided to make the transition to competitive MMA after moving to Singapore to join Evolve MMA.
“When I joined Evolve MMA Singapore, I found myself training and keeping that MMA dream alive. It’s another step in my life. I’m learning many things and feeling more comfortable with it day after day.”
Having spent time living and training in both the Middle East and Southeast Asia, Santana is very familiar with Asia’s biggest MMA organization and is excited to be making his debut fighting under the ONE Championship banner.
“I have watched ONE for many years and have also seen it live, so it’s a dream to finally be able to compete in it. I think it is a great, amazing event full of great cards and one that is very well organized and I feel very privileged to be a part of it.”
Although Ratinho has never previously competed in MMA, he has been around the sport for more than a decade and knows exactly what is required to prepare for a fight.
He describes his current training routine as follows: “I am lucky enough to be a part of the Evolve Fight Team, which is one of the best MMA teams in the world. I train twice a day, five days a week, and I focus on a different discipline every day, be it BJJ, Muay Thai, wrestling or strength and conditioning. I also have to watch my diet to ensure that I’m in the best shape possible.”
On June 20 in Guangzhou, he will be going up against Catalan. The Filipino is a veteran of seven fights who has been in with some high level opponents, including Road FC champion Nam Jin Jo, former Legend FC champion Xian Ji, and up-and-coming ONE star Gianni Subba.
Catalan comes from a strong Wushi background, but Santana thinks it will all come down to who is able to harness his skills most effectively on fight night.
“I don’t like to talk about my opponents. I know he is a very strong Wushu fighter and MMA prospect from Philippines, but I believe that once you step in the cage your strengths and weaknesses don’t matter because it is what you do it that moment that counts.”
During his career as a grappler, Santana says he has sometimes entered competitions without the proper preparation, but is leaving nothing to chance ahead of his MMA debut.
“In the past, I have competed in BJJ without having time to train properly and sometimes the results were good, sometimes not so good. Having the opportunity to train and fight in MMA is a dream come true and I am training very hard at Evolve MMA to make sure I am in the best shape possible for my ONE debut.”
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