Carvalho seeks Damm good undercard results

NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:59 PM ET

MONTREAL - Antonio (Pato) Carvalho has replayed his stunning KO victory over Daniel (The Pit) Pineda countless times in his head.

The two met on the undercard of UFC 149 in Calgary July 21. After cracking Pineda with a short counter right, the featherweight from Oshawa, Ont., unloaded with punches to seal the deal at the 71-second mark.

Despite spending years fighting in Japan and being ranked among the top 145-pound fighters in the world at one point, Carvalho views his first UFC victory as the biggest moment of his career so far.

“That topped everything, for sure,” Carvalho told QMI Agency this week. “I had the right people (around me). All the people I’d had throughout my career sort of popped up again. To get that positive vibe from those people again — for some reason, everything fell into place.

“Everything leading up to it and just the way it worked out — I don’t want to say perfect, but it almost was.”

Though the knockout was undeniably slick, it has left Carvalho with a serious problem: How do you turn off the replays when you’ve got another tough fight to prepare for?

Carvalho meets fellow Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Rodrigo Damm on the undercard of UFC 154 in Montreal Saturday, but the last thing he wants is to be fondly reminiscing over past accomplishments. With a dangerous opponent in front of him, Carvalho needs to remain focused on the task at hand and let nerves keep him sharp.

“This is the hard part I’m having right now,” Carvalho began. “You always want to relive those moments, but I’ve got to let it go now. I’ve got Rodrigo in front of me and I’ve really got to let it go. I’m trying not to think about it.”

Thankfully for Carvalho, the solution lies in his UFC debut, when he lost a unanimous decision to Felipe Arantes in January. He remembers stewing over the mistakes he made in the cage and how he inevitably used that disappointment to fuel his preparation for Pineda.

“I was just very stiff,” Carvalho said of the Arantes fight. “Realistically ... a few of the techniques I have, if I had just executed them properly, I could have pulled away — and I didn’t. I knew that was something wrong right off the bat.

“I have no problem admitting that was me. I could have won that fight, but I didn’t. He beat me up in the standing part. The truth is he was more comfortable than me that night. All it took was for him to make me stutter a bit and next thing you know, he’s landing the punch quicker than I am.

“I’m trying to bring my mindset back to where it was in Brazil, after the loss and how I felt,” he continued. “I’m trying to keep that kind of tension, nervousness and anxiety because I feel like that kept me safe. That’s how I felt when I fought my last fight, just keeping that nervous energy always with me.”

A favourite to win The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, Damm earned his spot in the semifinals, but was forced to withdraw from the tournament after suffering kidney damage while cutting weight. He made his UFC debut in June, wobbling Anistavio Medeiros de Figueiredo with punches before slipping in a fight-ending rear-naked choke. The bout earned Damm submission of the night honours.

Though Damm is best known for his grappling prowess, Carvalho knows he also packs a mean punch.

“I know he’s going to be well-prepared,” Carvalho said. “Whether he tries to take me down — I don’t know. He landed a good punch in his last fight and that’s all it takes sometimes. From what I can tell, when I saw his last fight, he’s got great fundamentals. Clearly he’s going to keep improving on that.

“So I’ve got to watch out for that, watch out for his power and I’ve got to be sharp myself. I need to make sure if I see any level changes, I need to sprawl or take him down. So I’ve kind of worked for everything. I’m expecting everything from him.”

In the past, fighters have found success in overwhelming Damm in the striking exchanges. Carvalho doesn’t necessarily plan on forcing a knockout, but as he continues to apply pressure, he will be keeping a close eye of Damm’s technique. If the Brazilian starts to get sloppy, the mistakes will most likely follow.

“If that happens, I have to have that ability to make sure I find the openings and land that punch,” Carvalho said. “It’s going to be up to me to make sure I set him up for that. If I can shock him right off the bat, maybe we will see that. If I can pull that off, then absolutely yeah.

“I just have to find the openings, or make him shoot a bad shot, or make him do something wrong. I like to be more of a precision hitter and try not to get too wild, either. So yeah, I’m looking for that and taking advantage of that, if I can.”


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