Hope usually springs eternal for veterans looking for a way back to the bigger promotions, but veteran Carlo Prater (27-10-1) isn't relying on that.
He knows a win over "The Ultimate Fighter 9" veteran Cameron Dollar (9-2) at tonight's Legacy Fighting Championships 7 will get his foot back in the door.
"It will get me back in the big show," he told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio
). "I'm not looking at it as it will. It will, and that's just about as firm as I can be."
Legacy Fighting Championships 7 takes place tonight at Arena Theater in Houston, Texas, and its main card airs live on HDNet.
Call it the power of positive thinking, or maybe just putting a brave face on an uncertain situation, but that's what Prater is about these days. He's fought some big names over the years and beat them before they were big. He's also fallen short in more than a few chances to prove his early promise hasn't faded with time.
But he's still fighting for that performance that puts him back on the map, and Dollar represents his next opportunity.
Perhaps the Brazilian-born lightweight is pushing so hard because he appreciates what he has as a full-time MMA fighter. He twice traveled to Thailand for standup training and saw what his standup counterparts endured on their road in Muay Thai. His struggles in his quest for big-show glory are nothing compared to those.
"We're fighting on TV," Prater said. "We've got all these supposed sponsors and money, but when it comes down to it, it's your passion for fighting. That's what's going to drive you in the middle of a fight when you're nose is bleeding and you're dizzy and you can't see.
"You see these kids that are already at such a high level and they've already got 40 or 50 fights they've fought on TV. The way they carry themselves and how humble they are. They just want to have enough money to send home; their trainers keep the majority of it, and the little that they have left over, they buy comic books for their friends.
"I recommend a trip to Thailand for anyone who's jaded."
As it is now, Prater is back in his native Brazil after several years stateside as a training partner to Yves Edwards and student of longtime trainer and promoter Saul Soliz. He works out with a host of up-and-comers and a few names you might have heard of: UFC welterweight Paulo Thiago and WEC featherweight Rani Yahya. The gym is situated in Brasilia, Brazil, the country's capital, and though you may not have heard of it, he's convinced fans will have this year.
"We're 3,500 feet up; no one has gas like we do," Prater said. "We'll keep going and going. And we're down to fight anybody. We've got an incredible ground game, and our standup is coming along. We're hungry, man. It's our time. We're going to be the next big city you hear about in the rest of 2011 and 2012. Mark it."
The city may also be aided by a big event headed there next year, Prater hints. He won't say, but from the sound of it, the UFC may be targeting the city for its next incursion into the South American country.
But all that is quite far away. What's confronting him now is Dollar, who hasn't lost since his appearance on "TUF 9" ended with a first-round submission loss to Jason Dent in the show's finale.
Prater's most notable victory as of late is a first-round submission of Academy of Martial Arts and Fitness product Bryan Travers at Strikeforce Challengers 14. He likely has longer to go to earn a ticket to the UFC, but he's pushing anyway. That's all he can do.
"I've just been visualizing this moment, and it's just going to work out for me," Prater said.