The Fortaleza native is aggressive like the Thai superstar and has no fear about mixing it up with the best competitors on the planet.
He has become a three-time World Champion in “the art of eight limbs” by the age of 21 thanks to incredible speed, skill, and power in the ring, and now he has the chance to earn his sport’s biggest prize in his first bout on the global stage for martial arts.
The Blackthai CT representative has earned his belts and his spot in ONE Super Series thanks to a slick, entertaining style, which has seen him post a phenomenal 65-5 record.
Though he has a fraction of the experience of his upcoming opponent, he has proved he belongs among the world’s elite by taking on some of the best Muay Thai athletes in the birthplace of ”the art of eight limbs.”
His success has filled him with confidence ahead of his match-up at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan, and while he recognizes he faces a formidable challenge, he is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with one of The Home Of Martial Arts’ most dangerous men.
“I know he is very well-known, very strong, very aggressive, and he is experienced,” he says.
“We respect him, but [in the Circle] we won’t have any respect for each other. We are going straight to strike with him.”
Goncalves has become well-known in“The Land Of Smiles” due to his diverse attacking skills, but his dynamic defense is likely to be just as important against an offensive whirlwind like Rodtang.
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The 21-year-old knows his rival has the tools to give him a painful night, but he believes he has identified his most dangerous weapons, and what he needs to do to neutralize them.
“There are two things I need to worry about. He has a strong low kick, and also strong punches, but my coach and I are working on this. You will all be surprised,” he says.
Although Goncalves’ slick head movement, distance management, catches, and counters – allied with sharp boxing, deft clinch work, and lightning-fast kicks – have undone plenty of opponents, he knows he will have to raise his game for 13 October.
ONE is the ultimate proving ground for martial artists, and one look at Rodtang’s run in the organization shows that he has a unique ability to take elite athletes apart by marching forward and throwing everything in his arsenal at them.
The Brazilian knows this, and he is ready to stand up to his best shots.
“Every fighter always needs to improve, I’m improving my technique, my endurance, and mainly my mind because we need to have a strong mind for any fight, any situation,” he adds.
“It does not matter if you have strong training if the mind is not prepared. If you have a strong mind, you can get what you want.”
All the time Goncalves’ physical and mental preparation has made him confident he can stand up to “The Iron Man’s” trademark aggression and stop him in his tracks.
“I’ll run him over. One of us will have to walk backward,” he adds.
“I just need to have a heart, like he does, and punch hard – punch to hurt him. I’m sure my punch can put anyone on the ground.”
Ultimately, the method of victory is not particularly important to Goncalves.
As long as his hand is raised and the belt is wrapped around his waist, he will be happy, but even that is secondary to his desire to win new fans around the world by showing his caliber in the Circle.
“It does not make any difference if it is a knockout or points decision, I want to take his belt. The goal I have is to win several belts and become known in the whole world,” he says.
“But what is most important for me is not the belt, it is the fight, and earning the respect of everybody that will be watching the fight.”
Tokyo | 13 October | ONE: CENTURY | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: https://onechampionship.zaiko.io/e/onecentury
ONE: CENTURY is the biggest World Championship martial arts event in history with 28 World Champions featured across various martial arts. No organization has ever promoted two full-scale World Championship events on the same day.
The Home Of Martial Arts will break new ground as it brings multiple World Title bouts, a trio of World Grand Prix Championship Finals, and several World Champion versus World Champion matches to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan on 13 October.