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Rafael Carvalho targets Bellator 243 return, wants Karl Albrektsson

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Joe Schilling vs Rafael Carvalho
Rafael Carvalho holds key wins over Joe Schilling (pictured), Alessio Sakara and Melvin Manhoef.
Casey Leydon, MMA Fighting

Rafael Carvalho expects to re-enter the circular cage at the Bellator 243 card in San Jose, Calif., on May 9, and has an opponent in mind for his next bout.

A former Bellator middleweight champion, Carvalho moved up to 205 pounds in 2019 and has no plans going back down. For Bellator 243, the 33-year-old Brazilian wants to trade hands with “King” Karl Albrektsson.

Albrektsson (9-3) made a name for himself under the RIZIN banner since the early days of the Japanese promotion in 2016 and joined Bellator in 2019. The Swedish talent made his debut in U.S. soil last October, losing to former champion Phil Davis.

“I would like to fight Karl Albrektsson in my second light heavyweight fight,” Carvalho told MMA Fighting. “I believe this is a good match-up style-wise that would get me back to the wins. Knockout or decision, no matter how, I just want to win.”

Carvalho reigned as the Bellator middleweight champion for almost three years with three title defenses before losing it to Gegard Mousasi.

The Brazilian then missed weight by a half-pound for a fight with promotional newcomer Lyoto Machida and lost a close decision, but bounced back with a win over Chidi Njokuani in a 190-pound catchweight contest. In his last appearance, Carvalho lost to light heavyweight contender Vadim Nemkov in his divisional debut.

“I opted to stay at 205 pounds because it’s better for my body and I perform better,” Carvalho said. “I’ve reached my limit at 185. I came to that conclusion in my fight against Lyoto. I was half-pound over, and I don’t expect to have any issues making weight and performing well going forward. Light heavyweight is perfect for me.”

Bellator 243 is scheduled to go down at San Jose’s SAP Center and features Ryan Bader vs. Nemkov in the main event, marking the first time “Darth” Bader defends the light heavyweight title since moving up to heavyweight to win a tournament and add another championship to his resume.