Pedro Carvalho failed in the biggest moment of his professional career. This was exactly the lesson that he needed to learn in order not to be as prepared as he believed.
Carvalho was one of the most talented MMA fighters from Portugal. He challenged Patricio Pittbull to the Bellator featherweight title in 2020,, but he didn’t win the fight. Carvalho was so mad, he decided to get back in the cage as soon as possible to erase that image of his mind. He was defeated again in Bellator by Jay Jay Wilson.
At 2-1 since and now slated to face Jeremy Kennedy, Carvalho said on this week’s Trocacao Franca podcast that those setbacks helped shape him into a better athlete.
” The first thing [I learned] to be mature,” stated Carvalho. “I was too immature for that [Pitbull] fight — but I was only 24. I was always very confident, but that confidence was only mine. I was able to win after every victory and my confidence continues to grow. My ego was what made me feel confident. My ego and self confidence grew as I received more attention, particularly in Portugal, after my fight with Patricio.
“I’ll never forget it. Patricio comes into the cage, one of my favorite featherweights, and I say, “No way.” The game plan wasn’t like that. Quite the opposite, really, but I remember telling myself, ‘You know what, I’ll knock him out in the first round.’ My ego was out of control, to underestimate that opponent. I was hurt, but learned from the experience
It turns out that Carvalho still had lessons to be learned in Bellator. The 27-year-old didn’t realize it, but he hadn’t given himself proper time to adjust and evolve.
Carvalho was open to meeting Daniel Weichel after Pitbull’s loss. However, Wilson took over as his replacement. Carvalho missed the birth of his daughter ahead of the fight, and didn’t even have his team by his side given the travel restrictions in his home of Ireland caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He still decided to move forward.
” I was going through this internal battle, but it will all work out. “It will work!” But there was already too much,” Carvalho stated. Although I should have pulled myself out of the fight long ago, I refused to give up. I remember walking out to the cage, Jay Jay Wilson walked out first and I was waiting to be called. A fighter knows, that’s the most transparent moment of all. You can’t fool yourself. When I tried to perform my mental ritual, the penny fell. I remeter telling myself, ‘I’m not ready.’ I was seconds away from walking to the cage, ‘But there’s nothing to be done now.’
“I had warning after warning to not take this fight and I ignored all that, and I paid the price. But I learned from it. It was the worst fight I have ever experienced in my entire life. It was terrible. I fell to the ground after opening the bedroom door. It was bad.”
Carvalho ultimately reentered the cage seven months later in a fight against Weichel and won via decision. This was followed by a loss to Piotr Niedzielski in a split decision — another fight Carvalho continues to contest — and his latest appearance with Piotr Niedzielski.
“I hit rock bottom,” Carvalho said. “It was hard, but I gave it time. And then I bounced back. Through those losses, and also the Weichel victory, I have learned many lessons. Although I believed I knew the answer, I was able to mature and become a better fighter. That fight gave me the click.
” It’s nearly impossible to remember what happened but it is all I can see in a positive light. I think back to those events and it makes me feel almost bulletproof mental. I’ve been through so much, I’ve stumbled so much and still came out on top. I’m No. 3 of the division now, about to become No. 1 after everything that’s happened. That makes me proud.”