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Cristiano Marcello Talks Upcoming Bout, Famous Backstage Brawl and More

If the name Cristiano Marcello rings a bell for MMA fans, it's most likely because they know him as the former Chute Boxe coach who famously fought Charles "Krazy Horse" Bennett in a surprisingly technical backstage brawl at a Pride event in 2005.

But in addition to his work as a trainer at Chute Boxe and now at his own gym, CM System, Marcello has also revitalized his own fighting career in 2010, and on Saturday he takes on Guido Canetti at Bitetti Combat 8 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Below, Marcello talks with us via e-mail about his upcoming fight, the scrap that spawned his internet fame and his favorite memories from the Chute Boxe days.

Ben Fowlkes: It's been a little while since your last fight. Tell us about your next opponent, what you know of him, and what you've done specifically to prepare for him.

Cristiano Marcello: I'll fight with an athlete ranked No. 1 in Argentina - Guido Caneti, a very tough Muay Thai fighter. In relation to my training, no changes - I am an athlete who trains a lot and I rely on my ground game.

Many people know you for your backstage fight with "Krazy Horse" Bennett at Pride. Can you tell us a little about how that got started and what you remember about it now?

This occurred due to lack of education of the athlete Krazy Horse ... because I was on the corner of Ken Kaneco, a Japanese athlete who fought against Krazy Horse and he won. So soon after the fight I challenged him to a fight. His team was in the same locker room as ours (Chute Boxe) and he was very unhappy and started to talk trash. What happened after that you guys saw in the video posted on YouTube.

The thing that seemed strange about your fight with Krazy Horse was how everyone in the locker room seemed to treat it as if it was a sanctioned, normal MMA fight, shouting instructions and breaking it up once he was out. Did that surprise you? Are backstage fights at events more common in Brazil, or did it seem just as bizarre to you when it was happening?

Here in Brazil we are very respectful, and we have a very strong code of honor. He could be alone in the locker room that night and nothing would have occurred. To be honest, I do not think disputes should be resolved this way. But the acts of his education and aggression led to this situation. In relation to the corners in the fight, it was a normal situation of clean fight.

You coached a lot of Chute Boxe fighters in the gym's heyday. Who was the best fighter you ever worked with at Chute Boxe?

I participated in Chute Boxe for eight years as a technical fighter and in jiu-jitsu. I was able to graduate with black belt greats like Wanderlei Silva, Rafael Cordeiro, Mauricio Shogun, Murilo Ninja and many others. I also had the opportunity to improve my jiu-jitsu for strikers. I believe that the best fighters that I worked with there were Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, Cris Santos and Mauricio Shogun.

We hear a lot of great stories about the old days at Chute Boxe and some of the brutal fights that happened inside the gym. What's your favorite story from your Chute Boxe days?

There were many great stories, I remember one time I fought a fighter who was a former member of Chute Boxe. He was a big fighter that weighed about 220 lbs. He was three weight categories above my own. At the time, Rafael Cordeiro was one of the leading coaches at Chute Boxe, and he negotiated a closed door fight between us. Rafael Cordeiro, Roberto Piccinini, Nadim Andraus and Jorge Patino ("Macaco"), and I were in one car; and in the other car was the former member of Chute Boxe, his current teacher of jiu-jitsu and a few cronies. We went to a park called Barigui in a remote part of town, the cars stopped and the match took place there. We had an honest and clean fight, just he and I. After 3 ½ minutes, my opponent was sleeping from a choke and I won that fight. That was a memorable experience because I fought for the respect of my team.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your career as an MMA fighter? Do you feel like you need to become a champion in a major organization, or are you happy just getting a chance to fight and get paid for it?

I have fought the in the biggest events outside the U.S., and have already had the opportunity to fight in America in the past. I know I have the skills to contend in major events against the best opponents. I would like to continue competing with the major events and the best athletes.

What made you get into MMA and jiu-jitsu to begin with?

I originally started training in jiu-jtsu as a means of self-defense, because I grew up in a tough neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. When I saw Rickson and Royler Gracie fight in MMA, I knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps. In 1998, in Mato Grosso do Sul - Campo Grande, I had my first fights. At this Grand Prix event I had two fights on the same day with no gloves and I became the tournament winner. Since then, MMA has been my career.

Great. Thanks for the time. Anything else you'd like to add?

I want to thank my agency - Alchemist for the support that they have provided and thank you guys for covering my career. For those who want to learn more about our work at CMSYSTEM, we have Facebook – and our website:

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