After being awarded “Coach of the Year in 2015,” Rafael Cordeiro will start 2016 in great fashion with three of his fighters competing at UFC 198 in his hometown of Curitiba.
“It´s always good to return home, the energy here is really special,” said Cordeiro, who will corner Fabricio Werdum, Patrick Cummins and Mauricio Rua on Saturday. “That´s the land of muay Thai in Brazil and people will feel the electricity of our passionate audience. Having three athletes on this card is a blessing to me. We did a great partnership with coach Ryan Parsons. He help us with wrestling and we helped Cummins with his striking. And it really worked out. I believe all three are in the best moments of their career, no injuries and 100 percent.”
Cordeiro believes Werdum, the reigning heavyweight champion, is ready to give No. 1 contender Stipe Miocic a hard time wherever the fight goes.
“Werdum´s muay Thai has evolved a lot; his wrestling has also evolved a lot with ‘Babalu’ and coach Ryan, and his jiu-jitsu is sharper than ever,” Cordeiro said. “Cummins has also evolved impressively. “I believe he will have a great fight against [Antonio Rogerio Nogueira].”
As for Rua, who faces Corey Anderson in a light heavyweight bout, Cordeiro explained that his most important function was to instill his fighter with the proper motivation.
“I know him since he was a teenager, and I know how to wake up the lion inside him, and that´s what I did. The lion is awake and willing to attack to kill or get killed,” Cordeiro said.
Cordeiro’s only regret involving UFC 198 is the absence of Wanderlei Silva, who signed with Bellator MMA earlier this year and is currently serving a three-year suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission.
“This is a historical show. I´m so happy to see UFC arriving in Curitiba in such a great style in a soccer stadium. The only thing I miss is my brother Wanderlei,” Cordeiro said. “He is responsible for the success of the sport, and he was the one who raised MMA to another level all over the world and displayed Curitiba´s muay Thai to a worldwide audience. He is the only one I miss here. Wanderlei is the man.”