Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho hasn’t fought in a while, and that’s one of the things he wants to change in 2018.
Carvalho will put the 185-pound championship on the line against Alessio Sakara in the main event of Bellator 190 in Florence, Italy, on Dec. 9. The Brazilian striker only has two fights left on his deal with the promotion, and wants to sit down and discuss changes in his contract before a possible clash with Gegard Mousasi.
“I don’t know what their plans are, but I want to stay more active,” Carvalho told MMA Fighting. “I already asked my manager to fight for it a little harder. It’s hard to live as a fighter in Brazil, especially in the situation that the country is in right now. It’s hard to find someone that wants to invest, so we need to stay active, to fight at least three times a year. In a possible contract negotiation, I’ll talk about that.”
Carvalho is 5-0 since signing with Bellator in 2014, and defended the middleweight title twice since winning it in October 2015.
“Winning this fight, and winning it convincingly and proving I’m the rightful champion, I will talk about it,” he said. “I’m always 100 percent motivated to fight, but it would be more motivation if they grant me that.”
Questioned about money, Carvalho says that Bellator pays him “what I expect,” but the way the company promotes him affects his income after all.
“I can say that what they pay me is what I expect, but I wish they would promote me more,” Carvalho said. “That’s really important, especially with sponsors and all that. They should promote me more. I don’t know why, if it’s because I don’t live in the United States, what’s the criteria, but I wish they would promote me more. That’s something I’d like to put in a new contract.”
Carvalho would welcome a change in the pay structure, though, after seeing Ryan Bader and other fighters get rid of show money and win bonus in favor of a full purse.
“It absolutely interests me, I think it should change,” Carvalho said. “It’s interesting. You should get paid everything, the whole money. They should rethink that. It would be good for athletes. We need that.”
If he’s successful against Sakara, Carvalho will face longtime MMA veteran Gegard Mousasi next, and he wonders why Bellator promotes him and Rory MacDonald more than Bellator veterans.
“They only fought once in Bellator,” Carvalho said, “they came from other promotions, so maybe they should promote more the fighters that are representing the company for years, regardless is the other fighters have a bigger name or not. I’m not speaking only about me, but other fighters that compere here for a long time.”
Carvalho needs a win Saturday before he negotiates all that, though, and he vows to “use new weapons in this fight” against Sakara.
“This is a great match-up for me because we both like to stand and trade,” he said. “I love to knock people out, but that’s the consequence of the fight. If the knockout comes, great, I’d love to end the night with a knockout, but what matters the most if to have your hand raised in the end.”
Sakara competed in the UFC Octagon between 2005 and 2013, and earned a shot at the Bellator middleweight gold with back-to-back knockouts over Brian Rogers and Joey Beltran. The problem is, both of those fights were at light heavyweight.
“I expected someone else next,” said Carvalho, who defeated veteran striker Melvin Manhoef in his two title defenses. “There are other athletes in the division that are coming off wins, so I was caught off guard a little but.
“I don’t understand their criteria with this one. I don’t know what Sakara or his manager did to get this title fight. I also don’t know how Sakara will perform at 185. He hasn’t fought at middleweight every since he left the UFC, so I don’t know if the weight cut will affect him.”