This Saturday, K-1 will make its first foray into the U.S. MMA market. One of the fighters scheduled to compete is K-1 Hero’s 2006 Grand Prix Champion at 154 pounds, Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante. In what could possibly be the fight of the night, the American Top Team fighter will face the always exciting Nam Phan. “JZ” recently took time out of his busy schedule to speak with MMAWeekly about his upcoming fight.
MMAWeekly: Hi Gesias. What have you up to since you’ve last fought?
Gesias Cavalcante: I broke my hand in my last Hero’s fight. I got some surgery. I spent a while in Brazil to recovery. I came back to American Top Team in March and I’ve been training hard.
MMAWeekly: You’re facing Nam Phan at the K-1’s U.S. MMA debut on June 2nd. How did that fight come about?
Gesias: I wanted to fight on K-1’s first event in America. I asked to be on the show and K-1 offered me the fight. For a while there, nothing was confirmed. But as the event date came closer, they confirmed my fight with Nam Phan. My manager worked hard to get me onto the show. The promoters want to promote me because I live in the states. It’s good for me and good for the event also.
MMAWeekly: What do you think of Nam?
Gesias: He’s a tough guy. He’s aggressive and he comes to fight, I like that. He’s a pretty good guy.
MMAWeekly: Nam is a tough guy. He’s doesn’t quit. Nam is considered a small lightweight. His ideal weight class is 145-pounds. Do you think your size advantage will play a role in the fight?
Gesias: I’m not sure what he’s weighing at right now. His last fight was at 155lbs. I saw a couple of his fights at 155lbs so more than likely he’s gotten bigger. I don’t think about using weight as an advantage; otherwise the elephant would be the king of the jungle.
MMAWeekly: How’s your training coming along? Who has been helping you prepare for your fight?
Gesias: I’ve been training really, really hard. I’ve been working on conditioning with “Benkei” [Andre Vinicius Aurnheimer Ferreira], my Muay Thai with Mohamed Ouali, and Ricardo Liborio. At ATT, I train for everything. I work on my boxing with Howard Davis Jr. It’s good to have a lot of people to help me train, including other fighters who are currently in Pride and the UFC.
MMAWeekly: What is it like training with Ricardo Liborio?
Gesias: He’s great. He’s a legend in Jiu-Jitsu. He takes care of all of us and gives us our confidence before our fights.
MMAWeekly: ATT has had a lot of success of late.
Gesias: Yes. The support that ATT gives us is amazing. There are so many good guys and good coaches, it makes a big difference. Everyone has been improving and will have a lot to show to the world.
MMAWeekly: Come fight day, who will be in your corner?
Gesias: Mohamed Ouali, Andre “Benkei”, and also Jorge Santiago. He’s fought in the UFC and now he fights in Bodog. He just beat Andrei Semenov by knockout. He’s like a brother to me. He understands my game and we train a lot together.
MMAWeekly: According to K-1, they were originally not going to televise your fight on the Pay-Per-View. After a few fight cancellations, they have decided to air your fight on the Showtime/EliteXC broadcast leading up to the PPV. Does that bother you at all?
Gesias: Not really. Coming into America for the first time, I expect them to have a hard time. If they can’t promote me here because people don’t know me, I can understand that. K-1 is looking at what is best for the show. They did decide to air my fight and that’s good for me. Not a lot of people know me in America. This will be the first time I’ll be fighting in a big show. The American fans can get to see me fight and get to know me better.
MMAWeekly: You won the K-1 Hero’s Grand Prix, you’re their champion. I personally think it wouldn’t be right for them to exclude you from this card.
Gesias: A lot of people thought the same way. They made the decision to show my fight after they realized what was going on.
MMAWeekly: When fans found out Kazushi Sakuraba and Royce Gracie were going to fight again, they were very excited. Who do you think will win the rematch?
Gesias: That’s a tough pick. I hope Royce but I like both of them. Both are legends. It’s difficult to pick.
MMAWeekly: It’s still an intriguing match. Both guys are a little older but people want to see them fight again.
Gesias: Yeah for sure.
MMAWeekly: How many fights do you have left on your K-1 contract?
Gesias: Three more fights.
MMAWeekly: After your contract is up, have you considered fighting in the UFC or possibly Pride?
Gesias: No, not really. K-1 treats me well. Money talks though. If I get a good offer from someone else, it’s a possibility. We will see. I’m happy with K-1 at the moment.
MMAWeekly: What do you think about the current level of competition in K-1 compared to Pride or the UFC?
Gesias: K-1 has a lot of good guys. The UFC has a lot of good fighters. Pride also has a lot of good fighters. The top guys in K-1 aren’t that different from the UFC or Pride; those fighters have more exposure in America. K-1 is a big organization and the fighters there are on the same level.
MMAWeekly: You were previously scheduled to face Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro on a past Cage Rage show but he got injured. Is there any chance that fans can finally see you two face each other in the near future?
Gesias: K-1 is having another tournament this year. If we both advance on the bracket, there’s a good chance we can meet; maybe in the finals.
MMAWeekly: Do you know who else might be participating in the tournament?
Gesias: I’m not for sure but probably Caol Uno, [Kazuyuki] Miyata, “Black Mamba” Kultar Gill, and maybe Andre Dida from Chute Boxe.
MMAWeekly: Koutetsu Boku?
Gesias: Yeah, maybe Boku.
MMAWeekly: How about a fight with “Kid” Yamamoto?
Gesias: He’s not fighting right now. He’s been focusing on his wrestling. If he comes back, I’d like to fight him. He’s the first Grand Prix Champion. I like the challenge and he’s a good fighter. If K-1 puts him in the tournament, it’s going to be good.
MMAWeekly: If K-1 adds “Kid”, it’s really going to be a great tournament this year.
Gesias: No doubt. No question at all, it’s going to be the best tournament.
MMAWeekly: You were just in Japan to do a press conference. You’re signed to face Masato at K-1 World Max scheduled to take place on June 28th. What made you decide to take this fight?
Gesias: Like I said, I like a challenge. It’s also a good opportunity for me to mature personally and as a fighter. If you face challenge well, you become a better person. For me, if I can become a better person, I’ll be a better fighter. I know I have the skills and I can do it. That’s why I took this fight. It’s also good exposure for me.
MMAWeekly: Did K-1 approach you about this fight?
Gesias: Yes, they offered it to me.
MMAWeekly: Are you doing anything special with your training for this fight?
Gesias: My Muay Thai coach Mohamed Ouali already fought Masato before. I have one of the best coaches on my side right now. After this fight [on Saturday], I’m going to focus on my Muay Thai.
MMAWeekly: Will you be focusing on speed or power?
Gesias: Everything. Training for MMA now, my conditioning is at a high level right now. I’m going to maintain this level for Masato. Masato is definitely a tough fight but I like the challenge.
MMAWeekly: Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
Gesias: This Saturday will be my American MMA debut. I hope the fans look forward to my fight and also the fights of other American Top Team members. If you believe in something, do it; not just as a fighter but also in life. Thank you to the fans and also my sponsors, Sinister Brand Clothing and Gamma-O.