Josuel Distak served as Vitor Belfort’s head coach during some high points in Belfort’s career, including his 2004 victory over Randy Couture. No longer in Belfort’s corner, Distak has never lost his affection for “The Phenom,” but at UFC 198 the two men will be on opposite sides of the cage.
Distak is currently leading the training camp for Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, with whom Belfort will clash May 14 in Curitiba, Brazil.
“I have an excellent relationship with Belfort,” Distak this week told Sherdog.com. “We spent great moments together. I’m the only coach who was with him when he got the UFC and Cage Rage belts. But we work in the same sport and, as a professional MMA coach, I also have my goals.”
This will not be the first time Distak has coached against his former charge. In 2011, Distak was in Anderson Silva’s corner when “The Spider” recorded his highlight-reel knockout of Belfort.
“I already trained Anderson to beat him at UFC 126,” said Distak, “and now, once again, I’m training Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ to beat him at UFC 198.”
Distak voiced his displeasure about the UFC’s handling of Souza, whom the trainer believes should be fighting for the middleweight championship.
“What gets me sad about this fight is not facing Belfort, but the way UFC is leading the opportunities,” Distak explained. “Vitor already had the opportunity to fight for the belt. ‘Jacare’ beat the toughest guys in the division. They’re boycotting our ‘Jacare.’”
Despite assertions from the Belfort camp, Distak does not believe that the 38-year-old holds an advantage over Souza in the fight’s opening round, when Belfort’s heavy hands are at their most lethal.
“‘Jacare’ has been the favorite since the day they accepted the fight,” said Distak. “Ronaldo is such an animal. He’ll be in the best shape of his life for that fight. We brought in Pedro Rizzo to help with muay Thai. We brought a top Canadian wrestler to improve his takedowns. We’re doing strong physical training with Rogerio Camoes. We’ll stay focused in training.
“To beat ‘Jacare,’ a fighter has to be able to fight for three rounds. He’s focused and motivated to win and get what he’s deserved for a long time: a title shot.”