Considered to be a natural light heavyweight, Bruno Henrique Cappelozza was not among the favorites to make the Professional Fighters League playoffs, but after a 46-second knockout of Ante Delija, the underdog Brazilian is first in the heavyweight standings.
Even in the event of a loss to Muhammed DeReese at PFL 6 on Friday, Cappelozza has a great chance to be among the final four heavyweights in the playoff bracket come October. The 32-year-old Corinthians MMA product revealed to Sherdog.com what it was like to return to active competition after a nearly three-year absence.
“It was certainly the most difficult time of my career,” he said. “I went through a very hard time with a long series of injuries and surgeries, but God blessed me with that invitation to the PFL.”
Cappelozza is confident heading into his matchup with DeReese, who is coming off a first-round TKO defeat at the hands of Denis Goltsov at PFL 3 on May 6.
“My record shows how aggressive I am. All my 11 wins have come via knockout. I fight to kill, never to win via decision. My opponents can always expect a war and next Friday will be no different,” Cappelozza said. “DeReese is a very dangerous opponent and heavy puncher. I trained a lot here in Las Vegas with Ray Sefo for that fight. I’m aware that I'm going to need feints to neutralize his game. But I´m pretty well prepared to have another great performance in that fight and reach the playoffs.”
Cappelozza believes that Goltsov, Brandon Sayles and Renan Ferreira are the heavyweight competitors most likely to join him in the PFL playoffs after defending champion Ali Isaev withdrew from the season.
"Heavyweight is always a lottery. One punch can change everything, but in my opinion those three have the best chances,” he said.
Prior to signing with PFL, Cappelozza squared off against current UFC light heavyweight contender Jiri Prochazka, falling via first-round knockout under the Rizin Fighting Federation banner in July 2018.
“I always dreamed of fighting in Pride. It was one of the hugest emotions of my life to fight in a packed Saitama Arena against Prochazka,” Cappelozza said. “I knocked him down in the very beginning but made the mistake of exchanging punches and he landed a nice one that decided the fight.”
Cappelozza is aware that Prochazka is one of the leading candidates to face the winner of the light heavyweight title bout between Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira at UFC 266. The Brazilian believes his former foe has what it takes to defeat either man and is destined to eventually capture UFC gold.
“I see Jiri as the favorite against both, but he may have a tougher time against Glover, who has great takedowns,” Cappelozza said. “Jiri´s weak point is fighting with his back on the canvas. But it is also very difficult to keep him on the ground. So I truly think Prochazka will be UFC champion.”