The last month has been very interesting for UFC middleweight Chris Camozzi.
Just two weeks after his win over Nick Ring at UFC 158 in Montreal, Camozzi got the call to step in on short notice to face Ultimate Fighter: Brasil winner Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira at UFC on FX 8 in Brazil.
Literally just days later, however, Ferreira was out due to injury and Camozzi was facing Renzo Gracie's student Rafael Natal on the card instead.
With training time winding down and a trip to Brazil just around the corner, Camozzi left his workout Thursday night feeling good, and then, he noticed he had several missed calls waiting for him on his cell phone.
"I was in the gym last night when I was done training and I went to my locker to get changed and I had five missed calls from my manager Jason (Genet) and I had a few from Jordan, another guy on my management team so I knew something was up," Camozzi told Bleacher Report. "So when I talked to Jason he said do you want the good news or the bad news first? So I said give me the bad news—and he said well your fight's off."
"I was bummed at first but I think he wanted to set me up a little bit. So I figured the good news was maybe they were going to pay me or something for taking all these fights. He was like the good news is you're fighting in the co-main event against (Ronaldo) "Jacare" (Souza). Right from there I was pumped, it took two seconds to say yes."
Souza was set to compete in the co-main event on the card against fellow top-10 fighter Costa Philippou, but a late injury forced him out of the bout and that's when Camozzi got the call.
With four wins in a row, Camozzi has been itching to test himself against the top fighters in the middleweight division, but he just hasn't landed those matchups—until now.
"It's something I've been asking for with each win, asking to fight somebody in the top 10 and prove that I belong in there," Camozzi said. "I'm more than happy to take the opportunity."
On paper, Souza will enter the fight at UFC on FX 8 as a sizable favorite.
Souza is a former Strikeforce middleweight champion and is known throughout the MMA industry as one of the most devastating grapplers in the sport. While this fight will be his UFC debut, Souza has more than proven himself already and could jump right in the thick of the title hunt in just a couple of fights.
So it's not surprising that Camozzi understands that the world expects him to lose this fight.
"As far as I'm concerned I have everything to gain and nothing to lose," Camozzi commented. "Nobody expects me to win this fight and that's the way I prefer it. I like being the underdog. I always pull out wins when I am the underdog and people are against me. So I always perform better under that kind of pressure. With a win I gain everything. There's nothing more dangerous than fighting someone with nothing to lose."
Facing a fighter like Souza on short notice is a daunting task but one Camozzi accepted with eyes wide open. He knew the moment he heard the name just what kind of credentials the Brazilian brings to the table, especially if the fight hits the ground.
Camozzi is supremely confident after preparing for the last several weeks to face a ground fighter in Natal that a switch to Souza won't throw a huge monkey wrench into his game plan.
"The way I look at it, Jacare's a bigger, stronger, better Rafael Natal," Camozzi said. "I was training to not just hang with Natal, but to dismantle him. So I've been training for a bigger, better Natal anyway so it kind of falls into my training. The game plan doesn't change too much."
The expectations going into UFC on FX 8 are that Souza will reign supreme and introduce himself to a new audience of fans clamoring for top middleweight challengers to eventually face the king of the division Anderson Silva.
Camozzi is happy to disappoint everyone and snatch Souza's first win away from him while positioning himself for a spot among the best of the best at 185 pounds.
"Jacare's in the top 10 and nobody expects me to win this fight. Most people don't think I can," Camozzi stated. "I put a win over him and I think I'm going to shock a lot of people."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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