Sometimes when you prepare for a huge opportunity before it comes, it’s almost as if you created it for yourself. That is what Chris Camozzi did, in order to land his latest fight on the UFC on FX 8 card vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
“After we left my last fight, I let my management know to tell Joe Silva that I’ll keep training and I’ll stay ready and see if I can get another fight,” Camozzi said recently as a guest on Darce Side Radio. “I actually told them if there was anything short notice, I was willing to step in before this fight was even offered.”
When the fight was offered, it was only a matter of moments before he said yes.
“It took about two seconds,” Camozzi said. I think my manager was even willing to give the answer for me, because he knew what my answer would be for fighting Jacare.”
After his split decision victory over Nick Ring at UFC 158 on March 16, Camozzi said he “got right back to the gym and stayed on it.” Many fighters struggle to cut weight or get back into gear for a short-notice fight; Camozzi avoided that before earning his first fight against a top-ten opponent.
My weight never went up too high. I stayed pretty low. I actually started dieting a little bit better. This camp I got a nutritionist and everything. All the pieces fit together pretty well, and that had a big part in taking this fight. I was already ready. I was already in shape. Normally in short notice fights, guys come in out of shape or worry about getting in shape in a short amount of time. I was already ready to go. I wasn’t injured in my last fight, so we just kept rolling.
Camozzi is indeed on a roll. The Factory X Muay Thai fighter takes a four-fight win streak with him into Jaragua do Sul, Brazil on Saturday night vs. Souza. He has stated he is physically prepared, but is he ready mentally for the biggest challenge of his career?
“I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself. To be honest, I don't feel like I have any pressure, Camozzi said. “Jacare is ranked higher than me so I think I have everything to gain in this fight, nothing to lose. I’ve been on a good win streak. I’ve had a lot of experience in the UFC now. I’m looking at it like any other fight, any other day.”
He may be looking at it as any other fight, but it is in fact the biggest fight of his career. These top of opportunities do not come along often. This is just his fifth fight in the UFC, and he needs to seize the moment if he wants to separate himself from the rest of the pack in the middleweight division.
Currently ranked No. 8, Souza is a highly-decorated grappler, and has medaled in the ADCC and World Jiu-Jitsu championships. Nicknamed “Jacare,” which is Portuguese for alligator, he is a dangerous opponent on the ground for any middleweight.
Camozzi explained how he geared some of his training for the grappling prowess of Souza:
“As far as preparing for such a good grappler like him, I train with other black belts and guys that are better than me as well. It’s not like I’m in the gym and I’m the best guy there. I’ve had guys coming in to help me train, and putting me in bad positions and working out of them and breaking things down for me. I’ve had a good camp as far as working a lot of ground stuff and polishing my striking as well. So overall I was working my game. Focusing on me, not what he is going to do.”
What result has the best chance of happening?
Camozzi explained that he needs to be more proactive, then reactive.
“I need to keep the pressure on him and stay in his face and bring the fight to him. Show that I’m there to fight, not just there to get a paycheck, I’m there to win.”
Camozzi is a sizable +400 underdog (according to Bovada) in this fight. The odds makers feel like he doesn’t have much of a chance, but he feels if he executes his game plan it will lead him to victory.
“I think if I go out there and perform and do my job, I think I can walk away with the win,” Camozzi said.
It would be a career defining moment for Camozzi, and in his mind it would “definitely” put him in the Top 10.
With a fifth-straight win over the No. 8 ranked UFC middleweight, it would be hard to argue with him.
Michael Stets is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.