Several years ago in Brazil at the Nova Uniao main academy, Marcos Galvao and Eduardo Dantas were teammates. They became friends and trained together constantly but in the back of their minds, the two knew that someday their paths would inevitably cross in the throes of real combat, not just in the gym.
That belief became a reality on Valentine’s Day 2013 at Bellator 89. In that matchup, Dantas was the better man as he knocked out Galvao with a crushing right uppercut followed by a few hammerfists in the second. Galvao was knocked completely out and Dantas was able to retain his Bellator bantamweight title.
Galvao has not forgotten that night in Charlotte and has vowed to never again be toppled like that. So far the jiu-jitsu wizard has kept his vow as he hasn’t lost since, going 4-0 and snatching the same title away from Joe Warren, who took it from Dantas.
“I’m at a much better place mentally when I train and fight compared to how I used to be,” Galvao told Sherdog.com in a recent interview. “I listen to my trainers more; I listen to my corner more. It comes from maturity. I’ve being doing this for a very long time and I had to kind of change the way I approach things now. I think I’m a much more complete fighter and I can promise you that I’m not going to lose like that again.”
Galvao is determined to exact revenge on Dantas at Bellator 156 and if it means submitting him or knocking him out, so be it. His primary job is to have his hand raised at the fight’s conclusion by all legal means necessary, even if it means tearing through an old friend.
But when the topic of their friendship and all the years they spent training together was broached, “Loro” dismissed any notion of an existing relationship.
“We haven’t spoken in years,” he revealed. “He still lives in Brazil and we don’t speak anymore.
“But,” Galvao immediately clarified, “nothing bad happened between us or anything like that. A lot of people make a big deal about how we don’t talk anymore but it’s nothing. There is no bad blood or hard feelings between us. We don’t speak mostly more because he lives in Brazil still and I don’t. We’ve just gone on separate paths.”
Considering how well he knows Dantas and how their first fight ended, Galvao knows he can’t expect to fight the same opponent from three years ago. He said he is focusing more on his strengths and has become much more comfortable with how he fights and what his strengths are, something he admitted he struggled with early in his MMA career. One of the best jiu-jitsu players in the world, Galvao reflected on his early career where he said he tried be more of a fighter early on and subconsciously stayed away from his comfort zone. But when he altered his approach and overall mindset, he nearly ripped off Warren’s leg with a vicious kneebar when they fought.
He has a gameplan, one in which he wouldn’t reveal. However, he stated that he knows he’ll walk out of the Bellator cage on Friday with his belt still around his waist. But in which manner Will Galvao retain his throne? That’s a question he couldn’t really answer despite having an additional eight months to consider the possibilities.
Dantas was injured in training last October and their rematch that was supposed to anchor the Bellator 144 card was nixed. There were options for the champion to take on another opponent in the interim, but “Loro” preferred to wait to settle the score with Dantas.
“I was unhappy that the fight was canceled [in October],” he revealed. “It was very disappointing. I had put so much into that camp, only to have it postponed because he was hurt. But it’s OK because it just gave me more time to focus on my training. I have been very patient all these months. I’ll be even better when we fight on [Friday].”
Galvao is on a mission to not only retain his title, but to eventually dominate the entire 135-pound division. But he can’t do that if he allows Dantas to prevail a second time.
“The only thing on my mind is that I’m going to be the champion for a long time,” he said. “I don’t care how long Joe or Eduardo were the champion or what they did before me. Nobody is taking this belt from me.”