Going into the biggest fight of Black House light-heavyweight Rafael Cavalcante's career, his opponent King Mo, the Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion, was favored across the betting lines as high as -600.

That slanted view only made exhibiting a commanding performance and finishing Lawal with strikes in the 3rd that much sweeter.  After Lawal demonstrated uncanny wrestling ability in his win over Gegard Mousasi and proved he was no slouch with his hands either, most added Feijao's loss to Mike Kyle into the equation to arrive at an easy win for King Mo.  However, his ice cold composure, technical mastery of underhooks in the clinch, and rocket-fueled striking game earned him the Strikeforce 205-pound strap and vaulted him back into the scene of top light-heavyweights in the world.

Feijao was kind enough to share his input on what his star-studded team of elite fighters means to him, what changes in his training routine increased his effectiveness, how he got started in MMA under the wing of "Big Nog", and how he got the nickname "Feijao".

DW:  At a time when most fighters revel in their personal accomplishments, you chose to give all credit to your team and training partners after you beat King Mo and became the Strikeforce LHW champ.  Tell me what your team means to you, and how big of a role they played in the fighter you have become?

FEIJAO:  My team is like a family, Anderson Silva, the Nogueira brothers, those guys are brothers to me, and who I look up to.  They have made me the fighter I am today.

DW:  You’ve attributed changes in your diet as well as a more intense training regimen to your vast improvement.  What specific changes did you make to your diet, and how could you tell it made such a positive impact on your fight game?

FEIJAO:  I have been keeping my weight down during my training camp, avoiding major cuts before I fight which makes me feel much better and full of stamina on fight night.

DW:  Your strategy was nearly flawless against Lawal, both technically and mentally.  We know training improves fighting skills, but what did you do to become so mentally confident and prepared for this fight?

FEIJAO:  I was ready, I knew what I wanted and I was confident I had the capability to achieve it.

DW: Everyone knows that the Black House team is an extremely talented group of fighters with many accomplished grapplers, but Mario Miranda seems like the only fighter who is known for his great wrestling abilities. How did you prepare for the high-level wrestling of King Mo in your training?  Did you have someone who could emulate such high level takedowns?

FEIJAO:  I train daily with some of the best MMA fighters in the world, and we also have some great wrestlers working with us in Brazil.  I was ready to defend his takedowns and go to the ground if needed.

DW:  You’ve demonstrated a very impressive combination of skills with your striking, Jiu Jitsu, and clinch game.  What do you think is your strongest area, and do you feel you have any weaknesses that you’re trying to improve?

FEIJAO:  I am very confident on the ground but I like to stand and trade punches.  I believe a lot in my hands.  There is always room for improvement, especially as the champion.  I will continue to be challenged every time.

DW:  “Babalu” Sobral had his title taken by Mousasi, who in turn was defeated by Lawal.  Do you have any desire to face either of them, or any knowledge about who you will first defend your title against?

FEIJAO:  As champion I will be ready to fight whoever is the next challenger.  I have not heard yet who I will first defend my title against, but both guys are great fighters.  They have shown to be very tough.  One is better on his feet and the other on the ground, but both are tough opponents.

DW:  You’ve made it clear that the defeat to Mike Kyle was a blessing in that it gave you added motivation to succeed.  Though he’s not one of the top contenders, would you like the chance to avenge that loss with a rematch?

FEIJAO:  That’s is not up to me, but if it happens I will be ready for that rematch.

DW:  Is there anyone in all of MMA that you would really like to face some day?

FEIJAO:  I don’t have anyone in particular who I would like to face; I think I could face any fighter in my division.

DW:  Tell me how you began with martial arts, how that lead to a career in MMA, and which individual style you enjoy the most?

FEIJAO:  I started in Jiu Jitsu in my home town of Ilha Solteira.  One day Rodrigo Nogueira was in town and needed a training partner, I was called and he really enjoyed training with me.  From then on Rodrigo put a lot of faith in me, took me to Rio de Janeiro and my MMA career took off.  I love Jiu Jitsu and I love the stand up game as well.

DW: I have to ask:  “Fejiao” means “bean”, correct?  How did you get that nickname?

FEIJAO:  My older brother’s nickname was actually Feijao, and people used to call me little Feijao.  From there the nickname stuck.

DW:  Comparisons between Strikeforce and UFC fighters are constantly drawn, and many fans are curious how well you would perform at 205 in the Octagon.  How do you think you would fare?

FEIJAO:  I believe I am at a level to compete with the best light-heavyweights in the world.  I wish all the best to my teammate Rogerio Nogueira and Lyoto Machida in the UFC 205lb division.


Special thanks to Ed Soares and Derek Kronig Lee for their assistance with this interview.



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