Exclusive Interview | Danillo Villefort, An Original Blackzilian, Returns to the Cage | MMA NEWS

March 4, 2013 10:32 am by Christopher Murphy

Earlier in the week, I had the opportunity to talk with Danillo Villefort.  He is one of the founding fighters of the infamous Blackzilian team fighting out of Boca Raton, Florida.  Nowadays, the team is well known for fighters like Alistair Overeem, Vitor Belfort, Tyrone Spong and Rashad Evans; but Villefort, and his brother Yuri, were among a handful of fighters who left American Top Team only a couple years ago and have since attracted some of the sports top athletes.
Danillo, born and raised in Brazil, is the son of Francisco Silva, a Vale Tudo legend.  He and his brother, Yuri, both fight mixed martial arts today.  Now, after over a year off because of injuries, Danillo Villefort is returning to action inside the cage.  He is slated to face Kris McCray.  Many may remember McCray as the runner up in the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter.  The two will fight in Atlantic City on March 23.


Below is my conversation with Danillo about his training in Florida and his upcoming fight.


CM: Danillo, thanks for taking the time out of your training to talk with me!  Let’s start with you.  Can you talk a little about your background with martial arts?


DV: Yeah, my father fought Vale Tudo, you know, since when they started it in Brazil.  He had over two hundred fights because back then guys fought like everyone week.  That’s where I got the passion for fighting.  So I trained Judo, started with Judo and then trained jiu jitsu at something like 19 years [old].  I made the Brazilian National team, but I lost my last match, the finals, to go to the Worlds.  I decided see how I could do in MMA.  Me and my brother, Yuri, trained with the Brazilian Top Team.  That’s when I start[ed] to fight.


CM: And then you guys started the Blackzilian team…


DV: Yeah.  We came to the US.  Me, my brother, Jorge Santiago.  And we had some problems with [American] Top Team, so we decided to change.  We met up with Rashad [Evans] and we got more and more guys.  We would go to fights and all we had were Brazilians and black guys, so we joked, “hey we need white people!” {laughs} In the beginning, we had just a few Brazilian guys and black guys, so that’s how the name started.


CM: Well one thing for sure, whenever we see any background on a Blackzilian fighter they always talk about how strong of a family the team is and how great the training is. 


DV: We are a family.  It’s great.  But the team is just a baby, you know, we’re just a baby.  In the early days, we have some problems, but we fixed some internal issues and we’re getting a lot of great guys training now.  It’s a great environment in Florida, everybody is [a] good fighter, trains hard.  We have great guys and great coaches.  Everybody loves to fight, loves to have fun, it’s a great thing.


CM: Now, you have a fight coming up with the World Series of Fighting at the end of March.  It’s been a while since your last fight; are you excited to get back into the cage?


DV: Cain’t wait, bro!  I’m not fighting for the money, you know, there’s not much money in this sport for most guys so we fight because we like it.  I can’t wait, because my last fight I couldn’t train right.  I know that’s why I lost.  I fought and got an injury [on] my shoulder, and I got injured again, and I felt bad, you know, calling them and saying, “hey, I can’t fight,” so I fought anyway.  But I want to put on good shows, not disappoint.  I’m grateful for the World Series for this opportunity, and I’m going to be ready.


CM: With the time off, have you been able to heal up and get back to 100% for this next fight?


DV: I’m 200%.  I’m ready, bro, I can’t wait!


CM: Now let’s talk about your opponent, Kris McCray.  He’s been on The Ultimate Fighter and has had some fights in the UFC.  What do you think of him?


DV: I respect him.  He’s a brawler, you know, a good wrestler.  He likes to grind.  But I believe in myself and my training.  I have good judo and jiu jitsu, and I work a lot on my striking.  I’ll be doing my best to rip his head off, bro.


CM: How has your training camp gone?  Have you done anything in particular for your opponent?


DV: I train hard, every day.  I’m going back to my roots, man.  I’m training with my brother, Yuri, my judo coach.  Training a lot of jiu jitsu, a lot of stand up.   Our team has a lot of great guys.  Henri Hooft, our striking coach, guys like Tyrone.  Everybody push[es] each other, and the guys, man, they really elevate the level of training.


CM: And your team has 4 guys fighting on your card, so I would imagine the energy level is really high leading into March.


DV: Yeah!  We have three guys fighting this weekend [at UFC on Fuel TV 8 in Japan], Tyrone [Spong] has a fight coming, so many guys have fights.  That’s our team, guys are always fighting.  We’re always on, never off.  No breaks.  High energy always.


CM: Getting back to your fight, how do you see the fight going down?


DV: I can submit him.  I feel comfortable with my jiu jitsu, so [if] it goes to the ground I will for sure submit him.  But I have good striking too, and I want the knockout.  I don’t like fighting 3 rounds so I’m looking for the finish.  I will try real hard for the knockout.


CM: Alright!  And one last question, do you have anything you want to say to the fans who will be reading this?


DV: Yeah, to the fans, thank you guys.  It’s been a while so thanks.  I’m working real hard, training hard always, and I won’t disappoint.  Thank you!


You can watch Danillo fight Live on NBC Sports Network on March 23 at 9:30 pm ET.  Check your local listings for channel information, or go to wsof.com for more information.

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