Relatively new fans of Mixed Martial Arts may not be familiar with Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante. The American Top Team-trained product hasn’t fought in America since mid-2007 nor competed under the UFC/PRIDE/Strikeforce banner a single time in his career. However, ask a more-informed individual and the response is likely to involve a great deal of admiration for the lightweight’s in-ring ability, as well as respect for his past accomplishments in the sport.
Regardless of how well-known he is or isn’t, Cavalcante will almost certainly maintain the interest of both groups this October 9th when he makes his Strikeforce debut in San Jose against former promotional lightweight champ Josh Thomson. Both well-rounded in terms of skill, Thomson and Cavalcante have nearly identical records and a fearless approach to fighting, as well as an understanding of the bout’s significance in terms of 155-pound contendership.
The 27-year old Brazilian recently sat down with media and spoke about the upcoming bout, his present health after a handful of unfortunate injuries, and why he feels more relaxed than usual entering things even though he’ll be facing a hometown product at the event.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve fought in the U.S. I am glad to be fighting here and Josh is a former champion and it will be a tough fight,” Cavalcante explained. “It is not an easy task to come over to the U.S. and have a good fight but life isn’t easy. I like the challenge and I think the fans want to watch this fight. As a fan want to watch this fight.”
“I don’t feel pressure especially since people don’t know me and they don’t know what to expect…so there is no pressure at all,” he continued. “There is more pressure when people know you and expect you to do well. I have been through situations with pressure from the fans expecting things and pressure from myself. I am not putting pressure on myself to do well. I know my potential. I know I am training hard and have an excellent camp…almost the best in the world and I have great teammates. I just keep focused and control and try to keep everything balanced.”
“I am always fighting in someone else’s territory, and I know it’s different in Japan…everyone is quiet and respectful, whereas here people are loud, screaming and booing,” Cavalcante said of Thomson being a San Jose native. “But a fight in a fight. I am so grateful I have a great camp. I’ve been through this with my corner men, and we have a strong connection and experience together.”
As far as his ongoing recovery from a slew of rib/knee injuries sustained while training or in bouts, Cavalcante expressed confidence in his current state while referencing his decision win over Katsunori Kikuno at DREAM 15 earlier this year. “I am feeling good,” he said on the subject. “I fought in July. It was a good fight…I fought for 15 minutes…I felt a big rusty because of the injury, but now I am healthy. After that fight I am much more confident, mentally physically, everything is there. I am training good, thank God.”
Per the usual, Cavalcante also spoke about how he felt his match-up with Thomson would go and whether or not he felt the outcome would be affected by competing in a cage rather than the four-sided ring he is more-accustomed to fighting in.
“I train a lot in the cage,” he said dismissively of the difference. “Most of my teammates fight in the cage, so I have been training with them. My game works well in the cage…sometimes even better than in the ring. I think both the cage and ring have pros and cons but I always look for the pros in my favor. I am working hard and nothing is different.”
In conclusion, he showed due respect to Thomson and recognized the need to take a general approach to strategy rather than expect an easy win based on any particular holes in the former Strikeforce champion’s game.
“I am going to look for everything…Both of us are complete fighters. I can come and fight – he can stand up, go to the ground, he can take down. So I am not looking for anything in particular. Don’t miss the fight…I am looking to fight my hardest for fifteen minutes, so when he makes a mistake I can grab it and win the fight.”
Cavalcante is 15-3-1 in his career with past wins over Caol Uno, Bart Palaszewski, and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro. While he has beaten twelve of his opponents by way of submission/TKO, he himself has never been finished and owes all three of his losses to ringside scoring.
In addition to Cavalcante vs. Thomson, Strikeforce’s October 9th event is scheduled to feature a welterweight title-fight between Nick Diaz and KJ Noons, as well as 135-pound champion Sarah Kaufman putting her belt up for grabs against Marloes Coenen. Matt Lindland will also face Luke Rockhold at the show.