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Nine-time BJJ world champion Bruno Malfacine has big plans for MMA career

Evelyn Rodrigues

One of the greatest grapplers of all time will make his transition to mixed martial arts this weekend, and he has big plans for his future in the sport.

Bruno Malfacine, a nine-time jiu-jitsu world champion as a black belt, is set to take on fellow MMA newcomer Romario Boaes at Shooto Brazil 74 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday night. Used to compete at the highest level on the mats, Malfacine was anxious to compete in MMA for a long time.

"I thought about fighting MMA for years now, but only had the opportunity to make the transition this year,” Malfacine told MMA Fighting. "I focused 100 percent in this camp after the Pan-American this year, but then I decided to compete at the (IBJJF) Worlds as well.

"I decided to do both, and it was really intense. It was tough. I did two camps form March to June, jiu-jitsu and MMA, so I was training seven days a week. This (MMA) debut will be great. I’m excited, but I felt that it wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t compete at the Worlds.”

Malfacine did both, and won his ninth world title in California. For his MMA debut, Malfacine has been training for five months now, which he considers a short period of time, but enough to win.

"I had to learn new martial arts, boxing and muay thai,” he said. "It was easier for me to adapt to wrestling because it’s similar to jiu-jitsu, even though the techniques are different. Muay thai and boxing were bigger challenges. I have to evolve in those areas, especially because my final goal is not this fight. I have a bigger plan. My dream is to get to the UFC, to the title.

"I have a plan, a project. I’m not thinking only about this fight, I’m thinking three years ahead. The challenge of learning how to strike was motivating. It was frustrating at times because I’m a perfectionist, but I’m feeling great right now considering how long I’m training it."

Malfacine will compete in the flyweight division, which is the same weight he used to fight in jiu-jitsu tournaments. The only difference now is that the weigh-ins are a day before the fight, but he didn’t change his diet for the debut since he has never cut weight like this before.

Everything went smooth in his five-month training camp, Malfacine says, but what does he really know about his opponent?

"I know nothing about him, man,” Malfacine said with a laugh. "I tried to find something online, but I didn’t find anything. It’s hard to do a camp for someone like that, when you don’t know what’s coming. He has an idea what I do, so it’s a bit easier for him. I decided to do a normal camp and prove that’s efficient, and I’m confident about it.

"I deal with pressure since I was a young kid. I was always the favorite in the other belts and continued like that when I became a black belt and kept winning tournaments. Sometimes I was the favorite, sometimes I was not, but I never left that pressure affect me because it's a trap. I have no pressure at all. I think he’s facing this as the fight of his life, but every time I fight is the fight of my life. I always hated losing, so I do everything I can to control it. I had a fantastic camp and I’m in great shape.”

Malfacine enters the MMA world as Bruno Malfacine, leaving the “Bad Boy” nickname in the past — “I actually lost this nickname when I moved to Alliance,” he laughs, “but maybe we’ll create a new nickname in the future.”

The jiu-jitsu legend has no nickname yet, but huge goals in the sport. Malfacine will turn 31 years old the day after the fight, and thinks it’s the right time to make this transition.

"My goal is to get to the UFC,” he said. "When I decided to fight MMA I decided to be the best, as I did in jiu-jitsu. I’m not in MMA to be just one more guy. Of course that I want to enter the UFC, but I want to be ready to make history when I get there. I’m not in a hurry. I’m not doing this for status or money, I’m doing this for the challenge, to become the best in the world."

Demetrious Johnson reigns supreme in the flyweight division, being a win away from breaking Anderson Silva’s all-time record of 10 title defenses, but will he continue fighting by the time Malfacine gets there?

"He’s brilliant, fantastic, and he gets more complete every time he fights,” the Brazilian said of “Mighty Mouse." "Many people ask me about this fight, but it’s too soon to talk about it. I’m just starting, and I don’t even know if he will still be fighting when I fight for the belt. I don’t focus on him, I focus on whoever is at the top.

"It would be cool to fight him. He’s one of the best in the world today, breaking records. I admire him. But I want to become champion."

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