It’s understandable that the past couple of years are a disappointment for former top-ranked lightweight Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro.
After years of dominance, which cultivated in a Shooto title, Ribeiro is coming off a stretch where he’s lost three of his last four fights and now finds himself as a fighter in need of a rebound.
“I really know how I lost those fights,” Ribeiro told MMAWeekly.com. “After the (last two) fights I try to see my mistakes, and why those fights went all three rounds, and why the fight going to the judges is not good.
“My goal right now is to finish the fight before three rounds. It’s always hard when you leave it to the judges, because you never know (how they see the fight). So right now I think a win in this fight for me means a lot. I think it means my career and everything I appreciated in my life… it means everything.”
While some fighters in the same position may feel extra pressure on themselves to succeed, Shaolin says otherwise when it comes to himself.
“I don’t try to put any extra pressure on my shoulders,” stated Ribeiro. “I’ll always have the regular pressure about my opponent, about this, about that, so I don’t try to bring anything in to add more pressure.
“I feel I had a really good camp for this fight and I think everything is going to go good from here. There’s nothing to complain about.”
Being a top caliber fighter means no fight is going to be easy for Ribeiro, as is the case with his upcoming Strikeforce Challengers Series clash on Nov. 19 in Jackson, Miss., against American Kickboxing Academy up and comer Justin Wilcox.
“He’s a very strong guy and a very powerful guy, a good wrestler, and his boxing is pretty good too,” said Ribeiro of Wilcox. “I really tried to train everything, but I (especially focused on) protecting my head, (avoiding) his right hand and looking for the best chance to take him down.
“I don’t know if he’ll take me down, he’s a wrestler, so I have good submissions to help me out (if he does take me down).”
When asked if he feels the fight will come down to strength versus finesse, Shaolin replied, “I like the finesse, but sometimes in MMA you don’t have a lot of space for finesse, so you have to use speed versus power, and see who has more.
“But for sure if I can get space, I’ll use the skills that I have because I know it will make a lot of difference.”
Having perhaps gotten caught up in the break-neck pace of early successes, Ribeiro plans to keep his plans simple and close to home going into 2011.
“After 2006, I realize that the best thing to do is just wait for the next step,” said Shaolin. “My next step is going to be to come back to my school, get my kids ready here, train hard, and wait for the matchmaker to give me another good fight.
“They’ll give me another name, I’ll accept it, start training hard, and then we’ll see. That’s always my next step. It’s not thinking too much about (opponent’s) names, it’s about coming back, doing good things for my family, and waiting for a call.”
Having been to the top of the mountain once before, Ribeiro can get there once again if he heeds his own advice and continues to learn from mistakes and moves forward one step at a time.
“I want to say thank you to Peak Performance and Hurley’s here in New York,” concluded Shaolin. “Thanks to everybody for support me, and come out to the fight, I hope to see you there.”