Three years since his last MMA fight and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion Rodrigo Pinheiro is ready to make his return.
The funny thing is, his layoff was never supposed to be so long. While he’s been busy with his school and competing in BJJ competitions, Pinheiro has been trying to get back into fighting with no luck.
“I was supposed to fight a year ago several times, but things fall apart one after another,” he said. “I have a lot of fighters that I’ve been coaching, helping them in their camps. So even though I’ve not been fighting, I’ve been training for fights.”
Known for his world-class ground game, Pinheiro showed his willingness to stand in his last fight against Andrew Craig, and since then he feels he’s continued to develop that area of his game even more.
“My mind is open for everything, always improving and making everything better,” said Pinheiro. “Of course, my best (game) is on the ground, but I’ve been training a lot of wrestling and striking with Pete (Spratt).
“In my last fight, everyone thought right away I was going to try to take down Andrew Craig down, but we spent all three rounds banging on each other and I showed how powerful and dangerous I can be on the feet too with my punches and kicks.”
Pinheiro can’t overstate the importance of Spratt’s influence in his game.
“Me and Pete have a really good connection and it’s a perfect match,” said Pinheiro. “He’s an amazing fighter, an amazing coach and he’s been teaching me a lot. That’s given me the confidence to straight against anyone is from him.”
Pinheiro (3-1) will make his return to fighting on Friday at Legacy FC 23 against Joseph Daily (4-4) in a feature bout on the evening’s AXS TV broadcast.
“He’s a tough guy with a solid ground game and wrestling, with hands that are good too,” said Pinheiro of Daily. “I think it’s going to be a mix of things. I’m ready for whatever happens in the fight. I’ll be there, ready to take the opportunity to finish it with a TKO or submission.”
While Pinheiro hopes his next MMA fight won’t follow another three-year layoff, he told MMAWeekly.com that this sport would have work in and around his already hectic jiu-jitsu schedule in the remaining year.
“I’m always busy with other stuff. I competed a lot this year with jiu-jitsu,” he said. “I just went to the Pan Ams three months ago and won first place, then in about three weeks after my MMA fight, I’m going to compete in the Worlds in California, and then three weeks after that I’m going to compete at the Abu Dhabi trials in New York.
“It’s just a matter of time. If I have a good opportunity to fight (MMA) and can put it in my schedule, I will do more.”