The Portuguese fighter’s second consecutive short notice call-up that resulted in a first-round finish with Bellator, he immediately called for a place in the promotion’s featherweight tournament after the win. His plea has since been supported by a number of his SBG teammates, including James Gallagher and Brian Moore.
Carvalho thought he would be in for a similar surge in momentum when he was slated to meet Brandon Girtz in February. However, he was forced from the fight when he couldn’t get his visa sorted in time, a withdrawal that he remembers as “one of the most disappointing” things that’s happened to him in his career.
Having watched Campos compete on Bellator broadcasts when he was a teenager growing up in Portugal, you might think Carvalho took some time to mull over the decision when he was asked to step in for Ryan Scope on three weeks’ notice. As he explained to MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast, it didn’t even take him a minute to make his mind up.
“I never take more than 30 seconds to accept a fight,” Carvalho told Eurobash. “My coach John Kavanagh told me about this offer. The only thing that I asked was if he thought a win over Derek Campos would be enough to get me into the featherweight tournament. He said, ‘Absolutely,’ and I said, ‘Let’s go, let’s do it!’”
Carvalho marched Campos down from the first bell and delivered devastating body kicks as well as powerful punches that dispatched the veteran of 15 Bellator fights in just over two-minutes. In hindsight, Carvalho sees the win as his first step towards greatness.
“This fight, for me, it feels like the beginning of my road,” he explained. “Since I was a kid I’ve dreamt about it, starting to make it happen, and I feel like this win is the beginning. I feel like this is the first big step to what I’m going to do; the first big step to greatness.”
Now 3-0 with Bellator, with wins over U.K. prospect Daniel Crawford, Italian up-and-comer Luca Vitali and experienced campaigner Campos, Carvalho maintains that he would be happy to take on anyone in the first round of the October tournament.
“I don’t have any particular name, I’ll let the crowd decide the favorite, and once they pick the favorite, they can put him against me. Then I’ll take out the second favorite and third favorite. I’ll fight the favorites until the very end, that way when I get the belt, there will be no doubt about it,” he said.
“I don’t have problems fighting anyone,” he added. “I’m a realistic, I don’t let it go to my head, but I don’t see anyone that I would have problems to beat. I truly believe that out of everyone that they could put in that tournament, I’d beat them all.”
The SBG fighter is confident that he will get his chance in the featherweight tournament and is adamant that he will claim the title if he does get thrown in the fray.
He said: “Yes, I am confident it will happen. Now, I’m just waiting on the confirmation. Once you see me name on the [list of tournament contestants], you can be sure by 2020 I will be the champion.”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Pedro Carvalho interview begins at 45:30.