After a perfect octagon debut at UFC 106, in November, when he knocked out Luis “Banha” Cane, the Ultimate Fighting Championship wasted no time in calling on Rogério Minotouro to face Brandon Vera at UFC 109, this coming February. However, an ankle injury has removed the Jiu-Jitsu black belt from the matchup. In an exclusive interview, Minoto speaks of his injury, his UFC debut and wishes GRACIEMAG.com readers an excellent 2010.
How is the ankle?
I’m not training, I have to stop for almost a month. I should start training again in January. I’ll do some exams to see how I am and should return to physiotherapy this Monday. I was already doing physio in the United States, but they asked me to hold off for a while. I really did need to take a break, as it was really swollen.
Your manager, Ed Soares, stated that you may fight at the UFC event scheduled for end of March…
I’ll be fine by then. I think March would be a great time to return.
How did you feel about finally debuting in the UFC? What did it feel like?
I’m still a bit nervous. I had a lot of apprehensions. But the guys there treated me really well, made me feel at home. I felt good energy coming from the folks who work at the event. They are concerned with the athletes and their behavior. I liked being there. Perhaps for it being my first fight, I felt a lot of pressure to win. But, for the energy at the event, I managed to fight well.
In your fight with Banha, do you feel your experience counted a lot?
It counted a lot. But Banha is a tough fighter and has a lot of experience, too. He has been fighting a lot at the UFC. What counted was the distance. I was able to find my range better than him and that’s what counted. I noticed when the punch landed and realized I had the chance to define the fight. Banha is tough and, if we should face each other again, I’ll respect him a lot. For sure he’ll be dangerous against anyone in the division. He’ll easily get back on his feet.
Would you like to send a message to GRACIEMAG.com readers?
I wish everyone great health in the New Year. May 2010 be a year of many personal and professional conquests. Always think positive; that’s the great secret to life. I thank everyone who cheered for me this year, who have cheered for me during my career and who liked that I entered the UFC. Best wishes!