Ricardo Arona, 35, was one of the most dominant fighters in Pride FC, with wins over Alistair Overeem, Wanderlei Silva, Sakuraba, and Dan Henderson, among many others. Since Pride died in 2007, Arona has fought just once, beating Marvin Eastman by UD in Brazil in 2009.
Arona met with UFC president Dana White in 2010, and was told with one more win, he would get a UFC contract. What happened?
MMAFighting's Rio-based Guilherme Cruz has the story.
"When Pride was over I didn’t negotiate with the UFC," said Arona. "I wanted to take some time off... I competed professionally since I was 15, and when I was 30 I needed to stop. Pride was over and I decided to stop and look to the MMA market, to see where I’d fit. I fought again two years later, at Bitetti Combat, but I torn the ACL in the first round. I fought two more rounds, so it took me almost two years to heal."
"When I decided to fight again, I started to train with my friend Paulo Filho, but I injured my other knee. I’ve tore the ligaments of my other knee and I will have to go on surgery again. I will do the surgery by the end of the year, so I will need to take some time off to be at 100 percent again. That’s the reason I’m not fighting yet. I have to heal everything to return."
"UFC is the goal of every fighter, and that’s my goal. I don’t know if I’ll need one or two more fights to get there, but I’m not worried. UFC is the goal, and I will be ready to get there. The only chance I won’t fight again is if my body can’t do it anymore. But I had a knee surgery before and healed well, so I believe my other knee will be 100 percent. I know time flies, but I also believe in my experience. Everything will be alright.
"I believe my recovery will take a year and I should be able at least to decide what’s next at the end of 2014. Will I return fighting jiu-jitsu, submission or straight to MMA? I expect to be ready to fight in one year after the surgery, but if it takes more than a year I’m okay with that too. No rush. I need to get ready to return at 100 percent and that’s what matters."
"Every athlete lives with the money they get from sponsors and purses, and I haven’t competed recently, but I have Quiksilver and Moskova as sponsors and they support me a lot."
"I’m building a structure where I can train and get ready to compete. I want to have at my house everything a fighter needs to be able to compete at the highest level without leaving Itacoatiara. I have everything I need here. I live in peace, thinking about my projects. I can stay healthy using the nature, like the mountains and the sea. It would be tougher to do it in the city, and that’s why I love to live here."
"I have a lot of good guys to help me here, but I also want my friends to help me, like Anderson Silva, Rodrigo 'Minotauro', Amaury Bitetti, Rogerio 'Minotouro', Paulo Filho and many others. I will also go to Rio de Janeiro to train with them, but I don’t want to need to go there to train like I needed in the past."
"My weight is the same for 10 years. I weigh 205 pounds and have always weighed that."
"I’m capable of beating any fighter. I’ve proven it already. I only need to be 100 percent to do it. Today, I can’t beat any of them. That’s the reality. But I believe a lot in myself. I’ve fought fighters from every weight class. Doing the right thing, I have a chance against any of them. Most of the fighters today (in the UFC) lose because they make mistakes, not because the other one if better than them."
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