By Dean Parr
Boasting a record of 24-4 and currently unbeaten at lightweight, there is a case to say that Brazil's Rondinelli Rodrigues is one of the best unsigned talents in the world. With only four of his wins taking him the distance to achieve and sixteen of the others coming by submission, the Natal-born fighter brings a formidable ground game and ever-improving stand-up to his bouts. He revealed what brought him to mixed martial arts, and what type of scrapper he considers himself to be.
"I started through my brother when I was twelve," noted Rondinelli. "I would say that as a fighter I'm quiet and have patience to wait for the right moment, but I'm aggressive at the right time.
"My house is a cage; the ring is my home. I'm pretty comfortable there, but I would say I like to spend more time on the floor to work submissions and ground and pound, which is what I’ve specialised in since twelve years old.
“At the beginning of my career, we only trained on the ground and pretended that we prepared properly until I spent some time away. I then started to think that this would never take me anywhere because I’d never accomplished anything or fought hard; sometimes for just $200.00.
“I always kept fighting every time one appeared, but only went there for the money, until I was invited to the Hikari team in 2009 after my fight with Sergio Junior. His manager and team owner, Gorka Sancho, who heard of my troubles and fighting without the right training invited me to their gym.
“This today is my home, and because of this I can say today that my profession is now ‘full time MMA fighter.’ There are several qualified teachers at our disposal, and every day I'm sharpening my Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, and putting much more emphasis on my striking and Muay Thai. With this, and preparation with one of the best MMA trainers in Brazil, Thiago Macedo, what more could I ask for?"
Rodrigues doesn’t feel that his biggest achievement in MMA to date was in combat himself, although could pinpoint a particular bout as his hardest yet. He revealed,
“My greatest success was opening my own gym, where I try to offer a little of what I know to my students. I believe that one of my toughest fights have been against Andre Chatuba, who was a very strong opponent. I have a lot of respect for him as a professional, and it would be an honour to fight him again. Today, I consider myself an athlete with more focus than I had then.”
Rondinelli will partake in his first contest outside of Brazil later this month, and he’s hoping that if the notches keep coming in the ‘W’ column, news of a big-show sign-up will soon be with him.
“I will make my international debut in my next fight, which will be on European soil at Cage Fighters 2 in Portugal,” said the 28-fight veteran. “I’m very focused and we’re working on a good strategy for victory.
“I’m going to let my hands go, put the punches together, put him down and finish! As for my career, I'm not thinking too much about it now is in the hands of God and my manager Douglas Robert. I'm sure that he will bring me good news soon.
“My goals are like those of every person who can live well by doing what they like; in my case fighting. You're always waiting, because who would not want to be up there in the UFC?
“I am not anxious about it. I'm trying to focus on my training and the upcoming fight. I'll leave the rest to my team and my manager. I'm not surprised at not having been called, because I know my time will come. Even if it takes a little longer, I hope soon to have a good international contract.”
To wrap up the interview, Rodrigues had some final words to add.
“Never give up your dreams because God is always beside us. Just believe and pursue what you really want. Thank you to my training partners, my teachers, my coach, my team in general and especially the owners who always believed in me. Also, thanks to my manager who has been working hard on my career.”
Check out previous 'Introducing...' articles here.