THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Former Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho returned to his winning ways with a unanimous-decision victory over Chidi Njokuani at Bellator 224, but he said his future in the division remains uncertain.
Speaking to MMA Junkie backstage after his win at the WinStar World Casino, Carvalho (16-3 MMA, 7-2 BMMA) admitted he desperately needed to secure the victory, but also added that he was unsure of his next move.
“I think it was very important to win the fight, that I return with a victory,” he said.
“In the future is in the hands of Bellator and in the hands of God. I need to go to bed and rest and in the future think about a title shot or, if not, change division. I don’t know. I’ll think about it in the future.”
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Carvalho mixed up his game expertly to secure victory over Njokuani (18-7 MMA, 5-3 BMMA), switching from close-range dirty boxing and strikes from the clinch to well timed takedowns as he frustrated his opponent with level changes.
“I train everything, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, boxing – I am an MMA fighter,” he explained. “I saw the opportunity, so I took down my opponent. I am an MMA fighter, but my opponent is trying to take me down (too).”
With the bout seemingly well in his favor heading into the final round, Carvalho said he wasn’t overly concerned with a final-round flurry from Njokuani, as he just maintained his composure and stuck to his gameplan for the final five minutes.
“I was not worried,” he said “I needed to keep my game, keep my distance. Kicks, boxing, dirty boxing, takedowns – it’s my game.”
And with Carvalho currently unsure of his next move, the former champion said he hopes Bellator officials can formulate a suitable plan for the next stage of his career. But until then, he just wants to spend time with his family back home.
“I’ll fight the next day, the next week, the next month,” Carvalho said. “I don’t know (about the future). I need a plan from Bellator for me. But for now, I need to go back to my room, rest, go back home to my son and my family in Rio de Janeiro. I need only this.”
For complete coverage of Bellator 224, check out the MMA Results.