Sport interview exclusive with Pedro Rizzo
interviewed by Ed Preuss for MMA
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.
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.
MAG - You have faced hard times during your last
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
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.
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.
MAG - Talking about training… you always counts
on K-1 star Peter Aerts’ support. Tell me about
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.
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
MAG - So, what do you think about this new Affliction
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.
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
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
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.