Phuket Top Team is the latest MMA camp to open its doors in Thailand and head BJJ instructor, Rafael Lopes, will be in action in Bangkok next month at Dare Championships 1/11.
Lopes is decorated grappler who holds a brown belt in BJJ and is a three times state champion and three times regional champion in his native Brazil. He currently holds a record of 1-0 after making a successful MMA debut in China last year and will be looking to make it two wins out of two when he takes on experienced Frenchman Yoann Gouaida on June 25th.
Although Phuket Top Team has only been officially open for a couple of days Lopes has been training hard as he looks to launch his MMA career,
"I have had no problems training or finding suitable sparring partners as I can train with Boyd, the owner, Silviu, the Sambo coach, and many other people in Phuket, there are a lot of different options here. I don’t have a specific specific gameplan, I just train hard and train a lot. I am beginner in MMA so it is better to keep it simple rather than come up make things complicated with a plan," he said.
Given Lopes’s grappling credentials you would expect him to look to take a fight to the floor but he has been working hard on his Muay Thai and volunteered to face veteran legend Jomhod Kiatadisak at the last minute earlier this year.
Jomhod is well past his prime but the former world champion seldom loses a fight and the fact that Lopes was able to go the full five round before losing via decision shows that there is much more to his game than just grappling,
"I like the stand up a lot now and I like to fight Muay Thai. I feel happy on the ground but I am also happy to stand up. I came to Thailand to learn Muay Thai, the first time I trained for six months and this is my second trip and I plan to be here for much longer," he said.
With a number of new promotions setting up shop this is a good time to be a mixed martial artist in Thailand and Lopes is stepping inside the cage almost straightaway. He will be taking on a well known figure on the MMA scene in Thailand in Gouaida, who used to fight for Ole Laursen’s Legacy Gym before starting up his own camp, 301 Muay Thai & MMA.
Lopes's first MMA fight was in November and he swiftly submitted his Chinese opponent with a rear naked choke, meaning he has spent less than a minute inside the cage. Gouaida , by contrast, made his professional debut back in 2007 and has fought in Australia, Taiwan, China and Singapore.
Lopes will certainly have a disadvantage when it comes to experience but claims he knows absolutely nothing about his opponent,
"I have never seen him fight. This is normal for me since i came to Thailand, I just turn up to fight and see what happen. It was the same when i fight Jomhod, I didn’t know who he was until he came up to me and said, ‘Hi I am fighting you!’"
Phuket Top Team will be putting three fighters on the card at Dare 1/11. Daniel Mashaimate will be facing Ngoo Ditty from Tiger Muay Thai and Will Chope will be facing James Mackinnon from Tiger Muay Thai. .
With an extensive background in BJJ and a rapidly developing stand up game Lopes could be the first fighter from this brand new camp to really make a name for himself as a mixed martial artist. He can take a big step on that journey by beating Yoann Gouiada at Dare Championships 1/11 on June 25th.
For more information about Phuket Top Team visit: www.phukettopteam.com
For more information about DARE Fighting Championships visit: www.darefightsports.com