Jiu-jitsu World Champion Rodolfo Vieira did finish yet another fight by submission in his latest Octagon appearance. However, the Brazilian was mostly satisfied with the stand-up part of his battle against Dustin Stoltzfus at UFC Vegas 31.
In an interview with Ag Fight, Vieira explained how he wanted to showcase the evolution of his striking against Stoltzfus. Although Rodolfo knew he could make things easier by taking the fight to his comfort zone, he only chose to do so in the third round, after proving to himself he could handle some striking exchanges and not panic.
“I wanted to test my evolution and overcome this fear of trading shots,” Vieira said. “I’ve been improving, drilling. I’ve been training hard to improve this part and not become desperate (when striking). Like my previous fights, (when I was desperate) to take the fight to the ground. It was a big test to prove that I have improved and have become more confident on the feet. I want to keep on improving in order to become a more well-rounded MMA fighter.”
Despite feeling satisfied with his performance on the feet, Rodolfo knows he cannot dismiss his biggest asset: his jiu-jitsu. However, knowing that Stoltzfus was also a grappler himself, Vieira assumed he could take the opportunity to test his striking against a not so threatening opponent.
“My mindset is not to become a striker, but since he’s also a jiu-jitsu guy, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to take him down,” Vieira said. “Since I had already been practicing my striking for a long time and I was becoming confident, I wanted to prove something to me in this fight. I think that’s the fight I was the most nervous for, especially because I was coming off a loss, but I won. I trained for almost four months for it. I could just feel sorry for myself and I managed to turn it around.”
Before the win, Vieira (8-1) had suffered his first ever MMA loss, a surprising submission loss to Anthony Hernandez back in February. Prior to the defeat, the 31-year-old was on a two-fight win streak in the Octagon, with submission victories over Oskar Piechota and Saparbek Safarov.