Pedro Rizzo interview

MMA Sport interview exclusive with Pedro Rizzo

interviewed by Ed Preuss for MMA Sports

A new Pedro Rizzo is emerging. After two loses in Pride, Brazilian UFC living legend Pedro Rizzo has found on his family a new path to keep moving forward in the fight business and bounced back with two bug wins in the Art of War promotion. His first victory was over Justin Eilers and his most recent TKO win over Jeff Monson.

According to Rizzo, the key of this change has a name and surname: Laila Rizzo. At age of one, Pedro Rizzo's daughter has changed the mind of the warrior. "On last June 19 we celebrated her first birthday. I am blessed with this God gift. She brought to me a lot of happiness and now I feel motivated to get in the ring and use all my strength to overcome any bad situation", says Rizzo.

Now the family's man has a chance to regain the gold times of the past. On July 19, he will have his chance to face Josh Barnett again, on the Affliction show, held in the Honda Center, in Anaheim, California. In their first fight Pedro Rizzo knocked out Josh Barnett back in 2001.

MMA Sports Mag's crew met Rizzo (and Laila) at a coffee shop in Rio de Janeiro to bring you this exclusive interview with Pedro Rizzo.

MMA SPORTS MAG - So, what do you think about this rematch with Josh Barnett on the Affliction card?
PEDRO RIZZO - It has been seven years since we faced each other and now we have a reverse situation. In the first fight I was the favorite and now people are calling me the underdog. I am very pleased with this fight and I feel blessed.

MMA SPORTS MAG - You have faced hard times during your last fights…
PEDRO RIZZO - I've been always a Christian and I passed through a bad professional time. But I believe it just had to be. I gave up my life in God's hands and I train supported by my faith. I train hard because I want to be ready for the worst. And this fight against Barnett is the hardest fight of my career.

MMA SPORTS MAG - What can we expect from this fight?
PEDRO RIZZO - This fight will be the one where I am going to show I still can fight anyone. That will bring me to the top ten best heavyweight fighters again. I'll be ready for the battle… I will enter in the ring as if it was the last fight of my life.

MMA SPORTS MAG - And how do you intend to do it?
PEDRO RIZZO - I have been training hard with a great structure, what I did not have few months ago. I have been training with 12 heavyweights sparring, good at wrestling, who enjoy exchanging punches and kicks. I believe Josh will start on the feet and then he is going to take the fight to the ground. But I am going to surprise him on the feet. Josh is a versatile fighter and as far as I have seen, he sharpened his game on the feet. He always counts on good take-down attempts and also likes to apply leg-locks. Everybody knows that and I have been training a lot of it.

MMA SPORTS MAG - Talking about training… you always counts on K-1 star Peter Aerts’ support. Tell me about him.
PEDRO RIZZO - He is such a good friend. So that is true, he brings his family and we travel as a big family. And every time I train with him I learn a lot. We're always learning some new tricks.

MMA SPORTS MAG - You said you want to come back to the top ten of the heavyweight division. Do you think in case you defeat him you return to the ranking?
PEDRO RIZZO - Josh nowadays is the fourth place. I don't know if I beat him I will be ranked, but what makes me glad is facing a top 10 athlete. There are some people that say I should retire, but I say no!

MMA SPORTS MAG - So, what do you think about this new Affliction show?
PEDRO RIZZO - I hope for the best. The event has a great card, featuring Vitor Belfort, Rogério Minotouro, Renato Babalú and Fábio Negão among others. So, what can I say more? We signed for three bouts and I know the next show is scheduled for October. So I hope people buy the pay-per-views and have great fun with our bouts. Affliction has launched the best card of the year and the only top heavyweight out of the tournament is Rodrigo Minotauro, who fights in the UFC.

MMA SPORTS MAG - Talking about UFC, it will perform a show in the same day… what do you think about that?
PEDRO RIZZO - I think UFC might be a little concerned. They analyzed the card and saw Affliction as a potential concurrent. I think it's positive for the sport, and great for the athletes. Affliction has sold a lot of tickets as far I know and as I said before, is supported by an excellent card. I don't know about the UFC plans, but I tell you it's going to be hard to feature a better card than Affliction's one.

MMA SPORTS MAG - Talking about challenges. Few months ago some rumors say you would fight Fedor Emelianenko... and he is the main star of the show... Was there discussions?
PEDRO RIZZO - Yes. There was some contact to fight Fedor, pretty much because all heavyweights are fighting at UFC. So the list of top heavyweights outside UFC include names like me, Josh Barnett, Jeff Monson, Brazilian Antônio Pezão... however I think he signed with Elite. The M1 event was having a hard time finding an opponent Fedor and I was named. My manager called after the contact and I accepted. It's such a great opportunity and an honor to fight Fedor, who is the best fighter in the world.

MMA SPORTS MAG - Talking about the best heavyweight of the world, how is it possible to defeat him? Any tips for Sylvia?
PEDRO RIZZO - I say he is a complete fighter. He exchanges punches like few heavyweights, he applies good take downs and knows how to fight on the ground. I think one of the ways to defeat him being on top. He is very explosive and has good sprawls, so its hard to take him down… he trains a lot Judo. And I am not a good wrestler, and it may be a problem. I think I need to improve my training and my game to fight him. In case of this fight is signed, I will build a strategy. I have been watching his fights and he handles the very bad situations smoothly.


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