Longtime MMA fighter Roan Carneiro made some splash when he defeated Mark Munoz in the first round with a rear-naked choke. Twelve months later, he’s finally back to fight inside the cage.
Carneiro had no choice but to stay on the sidelines for a couple of months due to an elbow injury. However, the American Top Team coach says the doesn’t expect the long layoff to cause any problems when he steps back in the cage to fight Derek Brunson this coming Sunday at UFC Fight Night 83 held in Pittsburgh.
“I was only out because of the injury, but I was training hard since I was cleared. I was sidelined for a year before and came back with a great performance. It won’t be an issue. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m more motivated, hungrier for this fight,” he said during a recent interview with The MMA Hour.
Carneiro was scheduled to go against Gegard Mousasi, who was a former MMA Strikeforce champ, when he suffered the injury. But, he quickly focused to Brunson.
“My mind is on Derek Brunson. I only thought about him, I trained hard for him. He’s well ranked in the division, so a win puts me back on the map, back in the mix among the top middleweights,” Carneiro said.
Carneiro’s opponent, Brunson, has a record of 5-1 in the UFC which was capped off by knock outs in the first round. Carneiro, who is apparently a black belt in jiujitsu, says that his opponent will try to use his grappling skills if he has no choice.
“I believe he will come to strike more, stand on his feet. He will respect my ground game, of course, but he’s a wrestler so I don’t think he will have a problem going to the ground with me. Based on his characteristics, I think he will try to keep it standing,” the Brazilian fighter said.
Carneiro, who closed a deal with the UFC after emerging victorious after one night, eight-man 170-pound fight two years ago, is not entirely brushing off the idea of going back to the welterweight division.
“It depends on how my next fight goes. I believe I’m doing well in this division, but I do think about going back to welterweight. I always fought at 170 pounds. Who knows? But having good performances at middleweight, I can fight at either division,” he said.
Carneiro also expressed his concern regarding the recent IV rehydration ban and confirmed that he would definitely take this into consideration before making any final decision.