Raoni Barcelos is one win away from a shot at the RFA featherweight championship, and he wouldn’t have become a MMA fighter without UFC star Glover Teixeira.
Barcelos, a promising member of the Brazilian national wrestling team, met Teixeira in 2009 at Delfim gym in Rio de Janeiro, and the light heavyweight insisted he should leave the wrestling mats to compete in the MMA rings.
"When he called me to train MMA for the first time I was like ‘Are you crazy? I’ll stay in wrestling because that’s my thing’, but life changes a lot and you never know what you’re doing the next day," Barcelos told MMAFighting.com. "I decided to make the change and it worked out great. My wrestling and jiu-jitsu are my base and here I am, 7-0 in MMA."
Nova Uniao's Barcelos is unbeaten in MMA with five stoppage victories, and he still trains with Teixeira. The light heavyweight is training for a shot at the UFC title against Jon Jones, and Barcelos spent some time with him in the United States as part of his training camp for RFA 14 on April 11.
"It was the best camp of my life," he said. "I learned a lot of good things from Glover about boxing and physical training. Glover is a big friend of mine. Then I returned to Brazil and finished my camp here (in Rio de Janeiro). It was a great camp, focused on my wrestling and jiu-jitsu."
"Training with Glover gives me confident and experience, he teaches me a lot," he continued. "That’s really important to me. Pedro Rizzo and my father are also important pieces of my life. Being among these guys is great, and Glover is really important to my MMA career."
Barcelos meets Mark Dickman at Friday’s RFA 14 card in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the winner will fight for the vacant featherweight title.
"Fighting for the RFA title is something special, for sure," Barcelos said. "RFA is a great promotion in the U.S., my fights air on open TV, so it’s a big step for my career. Fighting for the title is a huge step closer to my biggest goal in MMA, which is sign with the UFC and fight with the best."
Dickman is 8-1 in MMA with six knockout wins, but Barcelos is confident that he can win with his hands or grappling skills.
"I like to feel the fight and go from there," he said. "I have to do what I do best, which are my wrestling and jiu-jitsu. But who knows? Maybe my hand lands and he goes down. I have to be careful because he has heavy hands, he’s a striker, but I’ll do what I do and use my wrestling and jiu-jitsu."
RFA featherweight champion Brian Ortega vacated the title to sign with the UFC and fight Diego Brandao at TUF: Brazil 3 Finale, so Barcelos knows that winning the RFA belt could mean he’s one step away from the Octagon.
"RFA is a great promotion and their champions always end up signing with the UFC, so if I’m fighting at RFA they are watching me," he said. "I can’t stop now, I have to continue winning. After this fight, I’ll take the RFA title to Brazil and get closer to the UFC."
RFA 14 takes place at the City of Cheyenne Ice and Events Center in Cheyenne, Wy., and will he headlined by a 125-pound title fight between Matt Manzanares and Junior Maranhao.