Anyone who has been a mixed martial arts fan for an extended period of time is well aware of the reputation of the Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil. The gym was known to produce combatants that fought like savages in MMA. Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, Shogun Rua, and Cris Cyborg were just some of the savages who were created in that gym. Current UFC lightweight, Cristiano Marcello, was the head jiu-jitsu coach to these fighters. His attacking style of BJJ helped mold his fighters into some of the greatest champions the sport has seen today.
Marcello has done and seen it all. He is one of the few UFC fighters in history to be on the Ultimate Fighter reality show, compete in Pride, and fight for the UFC. With 17 fights to his credit, Marcello has no fear when stepping into the cage and competing. Tomorrow night we will the see 35 year old compete against UFC newcomer Kazuki Tokudome in Japan.
ES: What do you know about your opponent Kazuki Tokudome?
CM: He’s a guy who likes to come forward and doesn’t mind exchange strikes. He also has a wrestling background. I hope he tries to bring the fight to the ground where I can submit him.
ES: Do you think he wants to take you down knowing about your exceptional bjj skills?
CM: In MMA, you start standing, so I have continued training my Muay Thai and boxing skills to be prepared for anything. I don’t have any fear of a brawl and if I have to go to war like my last fight, I’ll do it again. However, I would love if the fight took place on the ground.
ES: Does the UFC making a lot of cuts weigh heavily on you going into a fight?
CM: I fight to submit or knock a guy out. I believe the UFC wants you to give a great show. I want to win, but more than anything, I want to perform my best. I want the submission or knockout. I feel if you give a good show and fight your best you will still have your job. Winning is obviously important in a career, but the skill level of UFC guys are so high now it’s hard to win every time.
ES: Would you say your style of fighting is what fans want to see?
CM: My goal is to fight the same way I fight every time. People like the way I fight. When I can’t fight aggressively for the win any more, I will quit MMA.
Japanese fans are the best in the world and respectfully enjoy watching fights. Are you happy to go back and compete?
I feel at home in Japan. I still have a lot of fans there from when I fought in Pride, so I’m very excited. This will be my 27th time in Japan, so I know how to get myself acclimated quickly. The Japanese people really study the martial arts too. If there is a good sweep, punch, or throw they will cheer for you and your technique. It doesn’t matter if you are from Japan, Brazil, or America… if you give them a great show they will show appreciating for it.
ES: What do you think of all of the TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) issues that keep coming up?
CM: I still have a lot of motivation in MMA. THAT is my testosterone.
ES: Do you still train other people during your own training camp time?
CM: In my Chute Boxe days, I did both at the same time, and still do today. I love my life today because a lot of people need my attention like those I train, my 2 kids, and my wife. I embrace it because if I stay home and do nothing it makes me crazy.
I have over 40 pro guys in Brazil that I train. Brazil is like a factory for putting out mma fighters. Right now I am building future champions that are aggressive and technical. I am teaching them to fight the way that I do for their career.
I am very proud and happy with my camp for this fight and my home life too. I am so happy right now and you will see me fighting with a smile on my face in Japan.
Speaking with Cristiano, it is obvious that he is thrilled at this point in his career. It’s not often that you get to hear people say how happy they are with the way things are going in their life. When you hear pure joy coming from someone that loves where they are at in life, it’s inspiring. This is what Marcello exudes when you hear him talk. When he steps into the cage to fight Kazuki Tokudome he will be wearing 4 things… shorts, gloves, a protective cup, and a smile that stretches from ear to ear.
Follow Cristiano Marcello on Twitter: @CristianoBJJ