At 34 years old, Strikeforce middleweight Joey Villasenor realizes that it’s now or never. Armed with a new four fight contract that begins this Saturday night in St. Louis against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Ronald “Jacare” Souza, Villasenor is looking to forge his way up the middleweight ranks.
Villasenor knows that in order to remain relevant he must remain active. This bout will be only his third in the last two years. With the way the younger guys are coming up these days, a fighter can’t afford to get too far behind without running the risk of being left in the dust.
Villasenor has had plenty of time to prepare for “Jacare” as he last fought Evangelista Santos back in June of 2009. When it comes to a fighter like Souza, the more time one has to prepare the better off they are.
“I am feeling good right now,” explained Villasenor. “The most important thing is that I am healthy and have had plenty of time to prepare. This is going to be a huge test for me, quite possibly the biggest one of my career. I’m a little nervous, but for me that’s nothing unusual. My body is ready as is my mind. Now it’s time to get in the cage and perform.”
Going up against one of the world’s top BJJ fighters is a task that not only requires a lot of time, but it requires the right training partners to try and emulate his technique and style. Fortunately for Villasenor he trains at Greg Jackson’s gym where there is no shortage of talent available.
“I could tell you that we have guys here that can help me get accustomed to his style, but then again I could be totally off,” said Villasenor. “I won’t know how he operates until I get in there with him on Saturday night. I have grappled with some high level jiu-jitsu guys before, but I don’t know if there is anyone out there that can simulate his exact style of jiu-jitsu. I’m really looking forward to testing myself against him.
“Jacare is one of the more aggressive jiu-jitsu fighters out there. He is always looking to finish the fight. The guy has won 11 bouts and finished all but one of them. His stand-up is improving and he’s improving each and every time out. I respect him as an athlete and this is a guy who is really going to test me. This is a fight I can look back on after my career is over and be proud of the way I performed.”
Many fighters will tell you that ring rust won’t play that much of a factor as long as they stay active in the gym. Then you have other fighters who will tell you that all the sparring in the world can’t make up for being out of action for an extended amount of time.
“I have had an unfortunate run here as of late,” said Villasenor. “I have had fights that were postponed along with the situation with my contract when I was with EliteXC. Throughout it all I made sure to stay in the gym and train. Even if I don’t have a fight scheduled, I am always in the gym. I’m always trying to get better and push myself. For me, ring rust isn’t a physical problem it’s more psychological, but once the cage doors shut all that will go away.”