The son of wrestling specialist and jiu-jitsu red belt Laerte Barcelos, UFC bantamweight Raoni Barcelos is going back to his roots in a hunt for redemption this Saturday in Las Vegas, when he meets Trevin Jones at UFC Vegas 61.
Barcelos was on a roll in the UFC after five straight victories and two post-fight bonuses from 2018 to 2020, but back-to-back defeats to Timur Valiev and Victor Henry prompted some changes in his career. Speaking on this week’s episode of the MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca, Barcelos said he’s no longer training under former UFC heavyweight contender Pedro Rizzo, who has coached Barcelos throughout most of his career.
“I’ve switched teams,” Barcelos said. “We’ve been working since February with Davi Ramos’ team alongside coach ‘Casquinha’ at Top Brother. I think this change also brings back my game of wrestling and jiu-jitsu. I brought that back. I’ll try to do my game, which was always very efficient, and go after the submission or even other techniques, like a knockout. It was more of a change in my fighting style.”
Barcelos said he feels at his best both physically and mentally going into UFC Vegas 61, making him more dangerous as he goes back to his original game plan.
“I think I’ve lost a little bit of focus in my [original martial art], which is jiu-jitsu and wrestling,” he said. “I became good on the feet, but I was leaving what is my bread and butter aside. I think I’m back to my roots now. Not that my striking isn’t good now — I’m working with Erivan [Conceição] as my boxing coach, sharpening my hands because the fight starts on the feet. I have to go after my goal, and I have to stand with the guy to get it done.”
Jones also enters the cage Saturday looking to snap a two-fight skid, and Barcelos knows he has to stay alert because Jones is “a very complicated opponent, a southpaw, and my stand-up is on point to take the fight where I want.”
“Trevin fought Timur, who I lost to, and ended up knocking him out,” Barcelos said of Jones’ knockout win of Valiev, which was later overturned due to a positive test for marijuana. “He’s very dangerous, got heavy hands. Based on his past performances, I can see he has evolved a lot on the feet and he’s got wrestling too, so I can say he’s a complete athlete. He’ll come in thinking I’ll trade, and I’m ready for any area, but I’ll take it to my area and try the submission.
“I always prepare to fight 15 minutes,” he continued, “but I think the knockout and the submission are consequences of the fight. I obviously will chase the submission, I always go in for the knockout, but we have to feel the fight because if none of that happens you can get frustrated. I like to prepare my head knowing I have to be ready for 15 minutes of fight.”