Rodrigo Ribeiro on Getting Ready to Face Phil Baroni at ONE FC: Pride of a Nation

Rodrigo Ribeiro came up short on his ONE FC debut but the Brazilian veteran has an opportunity to make amends when he takes on a UFC, Strikeforce and PRIDE veteran who remains one of the most recognizable fighters in the sport.

Ribeiro is taking on none other than Phil Baroni at ONE FC: Pride of a Nation on August 31 with the ‘New York Badass’ also coming off a disappointing ONE FC defeat. Both lost unanimous decisions, Ribeiro to Rustam Khabilov and Baroni to Yoshiyuki Yoshida and both will be looking to bounce back with a win.

What makes this encounter particularly intriguing is that at one stage Baroni was very keen to join Evolve MMA, feeling that the world renowned training centre in Singapore was the perfect place to revive his career, and the two briefly sparred together. Ribeiro recently spoke with and had the following to say:

I hear you sparred with Phil Baroni when he visited Evolve MMA, how did that go and did you see anything which makes you think you can beat him?

To be honest, I don’t really remember much about training with him but at the end of the day, training is just training. What matters is the fight itself.

Baroni has spoken about how he wanted to join Evolve MMA full time, can you tell us a little bit about the training there and why so many top fighters from all over the world seem to want to travel to Singapore to train?

Evolve is home to the top instructors in Asia. There is everything a fighter needs, all under one roof. You have Muay Thai legends like Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn and Orono Wor Petchpun and my friends, BJJ World Champions such as Leandro Issa and Zorobabel Moreira. You get quality instruction and the best training of your life.

Your Brazilian team mate Fabricio Monteiro, who also fights at welterweight, had a huge win over Deep champion Yuya Shira recently, what did you think of his performance in that fight?

I thought that Fabricio’s performance was amazing. I’ve known him for many years and he looked in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in. I was very happy for his victory.

Baroni is one of the best known fighters in the sport, what were your thoughts when you were first asked to fight him?

I feel very honored to fight him as I’ve seen him fight in Pride and UFC and he’s a veteran of the sport.. When ONE FC proposed this fight to me, I was very happy for the opportunity to test myself against him.

He’s also famous for his trash talking and has already had some unkind words to say about your pony tail, does that have any effect on you?

Not at all. I don’t pay attention to negative comments. He can say what he wants but nothing he says can faze me. Fighters like him crave attention and this is the only way they know how to. Perhaps he should stop wasting his breath so that he won’t gas out so easily come fight night.

How excited are you to have the opportunity to fight a UFC and Pride veteran in front of 16,000+ fans in Manila?

I am very excited and honored to be fighting there. It’s also the first time I’m fighting in front of a crowd of 16,000 people. This is great because I feel even more motivated and I will bring out the best in me for this fight. I can’t wait to showcase my skills for the ONE FC fans in the Philipines.

Shinya Aoki will also be on the card, do you two train together and has he helped you with your MMA at all?

Ive trained a little bit with Shinya as he’s of a different weight class but we’ve both learned from each other in the time we’ve trained together. He has very good technique.

Ben Askren and Rich Franklin were both at Evolve MMA earlier this year, did you get a chance to train with them?

Yes I did. I learned a lot of little details from Rich Franklin during my training. He is a good partner because of his size and his vast experience. Askren has a crazy game that is hard to imitate. It’s always great to have high calibre training partners because they help push you to the next level.

How are you preparing for this fight and who are you working with?

For my wrestling I work with Heath Sims and Jake Butler. Heath is an amazing coach, he has a lot of experience and knowledge and he teaches us a lot of techniques to use in the cage. Right now I feel that my wrestling has improved both my attack and defence and I also had the privilege to train wrestling with Franklin and Askren. For my Muay Thai, I train with Kru Ped Sityodtong who pushes me to my limit each and every single day. I also spar with members of the Evolve Fight Team such as Moreira ,and the latest addition to our Fight Team, Lawrence Cartwright who is in his 20s and is a professional boxer with really good hands.

ONE FC plan to put on 18 events next year, are you hoping to fight more regularly?

Of course! I am a professional fighter and if I could, I would fight at every show. I love being in the cage.

Baroni is going to have a lot to say about you in the coming weeks, do you have a message for him?

I wish him the best of luck and I look forward to the fight. I believe that he has improved since his last fight and so have i. If both of us bring our A game, this could be the fight of the night. I trust in my coaches Chatri Sityodtong and Sims and the gameplan they will come up with for me.

- This interview was translated by Evolve MMA -