Now that Maiquel Falcao is in Bellator, he can't imagine going elsewhere.
After a successful debut delayed by a health scare, Falcao (29-4 MMA, 1-0 BFC) advanced to the semifinals of Bellator's season-six middleweight tournament, where he's scheduled to face Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (16-1 MMA, 1-0 BFC) tonight at Bellator 66.
"Bellator shows a lot of care for their athletes," Falcao told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "Anyone who participates in a Bellator event probably wouldn't want to work elsewhere. There's an obvious difference when compared to other promotions."
Bellator 66 takes place at the I-X Center in Cleveland. Its main card airs live on MTV2 while preliminary-card action streams on MMAjunkie.com and Spike.com.
After a successful career in his native country of Brazil, Falcao fought once under the UFC banner. But he was released this past May when legal problems stemming from a 2002 assault charge came to light.
Falcao then signed with Bellator and was due to make his debut this past fall, but an alleged heart attack put his career on hold. (Falcao denies he had a heart attack.)
At Bellator 61, he fought a conservative debut against Norman Paraisy and emerged with a unanimous-decision victory. The fight wasn't the type that lit up message boards, but considering the struggles he faced in the past year, perhaps it was to be expected.
Falcao didn't say much about Paraisy or the fight as it plodded on in later rounds, but he expressed satisfaction that he was able to advance in the tournament.
"From my point of view, the most important thing is the win," Falcao said. "We work very hard to get the win, whether it's on the first, second or third round. When the opportunity to finish doesn't present itself, then we keep working until the end of the fight. The objective is always victory."
By recent indications, Vasilevsky is a steep step up in competition. He battered Victor O'Donnell over three rounds and probably would have finished the fight were O'Donnell not so resilient. The Russian's boxing technique looks particularly dangerous to Falcao, who values power over volume in exchanges.
Falcao said he began working on strategy as soon as he was aware that Vasilevsky would meet him in the semis.
"He has both strong and weak points," he said. "Discussing the fight itself isn't really possible. It's an unknown. I think he's a good athlete with good boxing. I think he has good victories on his record, but for every plus there's also a minus.
"I think he has little experience compared to me. I have close to 40 fights. He only has 17. The strategy by my trainer Marcelo Brigadeiro was very well put together. I have a lot of faith in his work. I think tomorrow there won't be too many secrets. We've faced many other hard opponents. I think it will be a good fight."
And if things continue to go well, Falcao plans to spend the rest of his career with Bellator.
"Today I was chatting with my master, Marcelo, about that," he said. "We feel it's almost impossible for a Bellator fighter not to feel the great deal of caring and love that comes from their staff.
"Earlier today, for example, I felt unwell. They figuratively carried me around. They take great care of us. The athlete is first, then the rest. Today as a Bellator fighter, given the chance, and if the CEO enjoys my work, I hope to spend my professional life here and retire from Bellator."