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Count teammate Warlley Alves among those that believe the sky is the limit for Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight Raoni Barcelos.
Alves (13-4) is preparing to fight Mounir Lazzez (10-1) on short notice at UFC on ESPN 20 on Jan. 20 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Champion of Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” Alves is expecting a violent encounter with the Tunisian striker nicknamed “Sniper.”
“Undoubtedly, he made a great UFC debut against Abdul Razak Alhassan last July,” Alves told Sherdog. “Very aggressive, sharp attacking with knees and elbows and great cardio. That’s the type of fighter I like to face; I’m expecting three rounds of violence.”
Coming off of a submission defeat by triangle choke to Randy Brown 14 months ago, Alves guaranteed that he is bringing back his best for his 12th UFC fight.
“I’m coming from a sequence of two wins and two losses. I don’t like to give excuses, but in the last two years I had a sequence of injuries that prevented me from giving my best in [my] training. Now, besides fixing everything, I’m having great support from Pedro Rizzo in USINA / RVT. We are working hard every day. Soon I’ll be back in the rankings.”
Concerning Rizzo’s team, Warlley commented about one of his best sparring partners, Raoni Barcelos. His fellow countryman will be facing top-10 bantamweight Raphael Assuncao on Feb. 27 in Las Vegas.
“When a soldier goes to the war, he normally uses a gun and a rifle,” Alves stated flatly. “Raoni is like a Robocop. He is the most complete fighter I’ve ever trained with. It’s just unbelievable that he is not in the bantamweight rankings. I have no doubt he will be the next UFC bantamweight champion.”
Alves also confirmed a rumor of a sparring session in Nova Uniao in 2016, when Barcelos gave current champion Petr Yan a hard time.
“Raoni [doesn’t] talk about sparring, but I know two guys who witnessed that and confirmed. Of course, it was four years ago, and both evolved a lot, but [from] what they told me, Yan will not forget who Raoni is.”
Warlley also recalled the excellent experience he had in TUF Brazil 3 when Chael Sonnen was his trainer.
“Wanderlei was my idol since childhood, but as a professional I knew Sonnen would have [many] more tools to complement my game, and that’s what happened in the house,” Alves admitted. “But my biggest surprise was about the human being Chael Sonnen. He was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in the fighting world. I have no words to express how much he helped me after TUF. Thanks to his management, I got in fights with Colby [Covington] and [Kamaru] Usman.”