Guto Inocente (right) hopes to make an impact in Strikeforce. | Photo: M.Alonso/Sherdog.com
Brazilian prospect Guto Inocente will make his North American debut July 22 against fellow unbeaten light heavyweight Lionel Lanham at Strikeforce Challengers 17, set to take place at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
Inocente on Wednesday confirmed news of the bout to Sherdog.com. The former Shooto South America 220-pound champion has fully recovered from a recent hand surgery and is currently training in Brasilia alongside UFC fighters Paulo Thiago and Rani Yahya at Constrictor Team. Inocente will return to the U.S. on June 20 to continue his preparations at Imperial Athletics in Boca Raton, Fla., and hopefully find out a little more about his opponent.
“It was hard to find information about this guy,” Inocente told Sherdog.com of Lanham, a training partner of Keith Jardine. “I found one fight of his on YouTube, and people from Imperial Athletics are already looking for more information. I also know he’s from New Mexico, a Kyokushin karate specialist, with a good wrestling game, and has ended all three of his fights in the first round.”
Despite the lack of details on Lanham, the Brazilian believes his strong training partners in Brasilia and in Florida will help him to make a successful debut in Strikeforce.
“In Brasilia, beyond training at Constrictor, I’m doing hard work at Cerrado Thai and physical preparation with Lula Guerreiro,” said Inocente. “My dad is helping me with my striking, and in the U.S., I’ll have partners like Antonio Silva, Danillo and Yuri Villefort, Jorge Santiago, and coaches like Mike Van Arsdale, Jorge Babu and Diogenes [Asahida].”
Excited to resume training in the States, Inocente is also looking forward to meeting one of his MMA idols.
“I haven’t met Rashad Evans yet, because he arrived at Imperial at the same time I was flying back to Brazil to have my surgery,” said Inocente. “I’m so excited to get back to the U.S. and meet him, train with him, learn some of his wrestling techniques. I believe my camp will make the difference. There are so many high-level fighters there, and training with those guys makes me feel ready for anyone. I’m really confident.”
While Inocente inked a deal with Strikeforce in February, he very nearly wound up in the Octagon. The fighter told Sherdog.com that he was offered a four-bout UFC deal, with the first fight coming at heavyweight and the latter three at 205 pounds. Tempted though he was to join the world’s top MMA promotion, Inocente sadly declined on the advice of his team.
“When we started talking [to Strikeforce], at the same time, we got a proposal from the UFC,” Inocente said. “They wanted me to fight first at heavyweight, to replace someone who had pulled out of a fight. My dad and my coaches talked and decided to deny that offer. I was so excited to fight. I wanted to compete, even against a heavyweight fighter... but today, I believe we’ve made the right choice.
“I need to get more experience. I have a six-fight deal with Strikeforce, and sooner or later, I’ll be in the UFC. The two promotions are almost the same thing now. The people from Zuffa said [at May’s Fighter Summit in Las Vegas] that they’ll try to do with Strikeforce what they’ve done with UFC. I’m excited to fight there. It will be a great chance to develop.”
Colin Foster contributed to this report.