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Former champion Rafael Carvalho volunteers to welcome Lyoto Machida to Bellator

Rafael Carvalho knocked out his opponent in four of his six Bellator wins.
Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

CURITIBA, Brazil — Lyoto Machida is the latest addition to the Bellator middleweight division, and a former Bellator champion wants to be the first to face him.

Rafael Carvalho recently lost the 185-pound championship to Gegard Mousasi after a 6-0 run in the company, and is offering to welcome “The Dragon” to the Bellator cage later this year.

”I went to the barbershop today to get a haircut and people asked me about Lyoto signing with Bellator, and I said it would be cool to welcome him,” Carvalho told MMA Fighting. “This fight interests me a lot. I don’t know what Bellator has in mind for his debut, but I’m willing to fight him or whoever they wanna put in front of me.”

A former light heavyweight champion in the UFC, Machida left the promotion on a two-fight winning streak with victories over Eryk Anders and Vitor Belfort. Carvalho, who finished opponents in four of his Bellator victories, likes the challenges that this match-up presents.

”He’s a counter striker, but it’s a double-edged sword because I’m also a counter striker,” Carvalho said. “It would be an interesting fight and anything could happen. Like Mike Tyson once said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

One of the things that would help him prepare for an eventual fight with Machida, Carvalho says, is the fact that he trains with Andre Dida at Evolucao Thai. Dida was the head coach of Mauricio Rua when “Shogun” solved the puzzle that Machida’s style represented and won the UFC light heavyweight championship in 2010.

”He made ‘Shogun’ a world champion, and we have him here,” Carvalho said. “He’s the antidote to this venom. We have to dig deep and leave the mind open to the techniques he shows.”

Still upset with his Bellator 200 loss to Mousasi in London, Carvalho vows to become a new fighter when he returns to the cage.

”It’s a new start for me. You’ll see a new version of Rafael,” Carvalho said. “We’ll set our strategies and start from scratch again. I’m not upset about the loss, but with my performance. I even joke that I didn’t even fight, that I went there on vacation. That’s how I feel. But I’ll say this, the belt is only taking a time off from me. It will come back soon.”

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