Cape Town - Brazilian Jose da Rocha admits fighting Conrad Seabi on short
notice at high altitude is a concern, hence pacing will be an important factor
in their tussle at EFC 76 in Pretoria on Saturday.
Da Rocha (9-5) agreed to face fellow welterweight contender
Seabi (6-4) a fortnight ago after Luke Michael (4-3) withdrew from the
main-card bout at Time Square with a dislocated knee.
The Pitbull Brothers product
previously lost an interim title fight to Gunther Kalunda (5-0) in a five-round
war at Sun City in the North West in September.
Da Rocha, who also made his EFC debut on short notice against
two-division champion Dricus du Plessis (12-2), showed great heart against
Kalunda, but quickly tired in their back-and-forth contest.
The 31-year-old concedes the effects of competing at altitude
cannot be overlooked.
“I would be lying if I said I
don’t (have concerns),” Da Rocha tells mmaengage.com.
“I need to pace myself better, especially in this fight as it
was short notice. I can’t just rush things because if I do and not get the
result I want, I may get tired and give a chance for my opponent. The only way
to lessen the effect of the altitude would be to arrive three or four weeks
earlier and that isn’t possible, so we’ll have to deal with it during the
Da Rocha obviously hasn’t had ideal preparations, although he
comes from a camp on a high following Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire’s (28-4) defence
of his Bellator MMA featherweight crown in Tel Aviv, Israel last month.
Rio Grande do Norte-based ‘Dedinho’ also gets access to training
partners of the calibre of UFC flyweight king Henry Cejudo (13-2).
“The camp wasn’t ideal, but I’m ready and very confident now.
Both Pitbull brothers train at the gym with us, they’re a big inspiration.
Patricio’s recent win was great for the whole team and it makes us want to
continue the momentum. Aside from the brothers, there are some important names
on our team like Henry Cejudo and Leandro Higo.
“I train more with Patricky (Freir), ACB fighters Gleristone
Santos and Wendres ‘Godzilla’. My student Augusto Matias, who if given a
chance, will be a star in the EFC lightweight division, and a few other
upcoming guys from our team who will certainly become important in the future.
We all help each other in different ways.”
On the task ahead, Da Rocha
respects the power of 39-year-old Seabi, who claims
to have over 200 combined fights in various disciplines,
including karate, kickboxing and Muay Thai.
However, Da Rocha is also an accomplished Muay Thai specialist
with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to boot.
He is confident Seabi will be in serious trouble should their
scrap hit the ground and insists he is returning home a winner.
“I think I match up well with him. His strength is on the
stand-up and he has heavy hands, but his ground game is very weak. I believe he
will want to keep it standing and I might strike with him. I can very well take
him down and submit him.”
He adds: “I’ve went through a lot to make it to this fight,
there’s no way I’m returning home with a defeat. I’m fighting as if my future
is on the line and I’m gonna win it.”
Da Rocha registered
first-round finishes of Cameron Pritchard (4-2) and Pupanga Tresor (3-4) before
losing by unanimous decision to DR Congo’s Kalunda, a result
which he disputes.
Mamelodi-born Seabi has won
five of his last six fights, with that loss also coming by unanimous decision
against Kalunda in December 2017. ‘Cage Wise’ has since beaten Pietie Coxen
(5-8) and German Max Merten (1-3).