When opportunity knocks, you have to answer the door.

It’s a common cliché, but it certainly applies to the world of mixed martial arts. Colorado middleweight Chris Camozzi knows the situation well. Unfortunately, the Factory X-trained fighter also knows that it doesn’t always pay off.

Earlier this year, Camozzi was called upon to step into the UFC on FX 8 co-main event against former Strikeforce champion and multiple-time world grappling kingpin Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The result? A first-round submission loss that snapped Camozzi’s four-fight winning streak inside the Octagon.

“I have no regrets. I took an opportunity; that’s how stars are made,” proclaimed Camozzi in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “Had I won that fight, I’d have been in the top of the division right now. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain from that fight. I would do it again tomorrow.”

Although Camozzi possesses a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, when the fight hit the ground in Brazil, the grappling prowess of Jacare was unavoidable. Just one slip in technique was all it took for Jacare to secure the fight-finishing arm-triangle choke.

Camozzi (Marcelo Alonso/Sherdog)

Camozzi (Marcelo Alonso/Sherdog)

“He’s just that good,” declared Camozzi. “I felt composed in there. I felt I was doing pretty well on the ground, given the circumstances. I was keeping my guard well and wasn’t getting too far out of position. I just went to hip escape and I took my arm with me, pushing over my head instead of pushing off of him. I made that little mistake with someone that good on top of me and he capitalized on it.”

Despite the setback, Camozzi isn’t down on his luck. In fact, as he prepares to face off with another Strikeforce import, Lorenz Larkin, at UFC Fight Night 31 on Nov. 6, the fighter is eager to show off everything he’s worked on since that fight.

“I’m so excited to fight again; I can’t even explain it,” he expressed. “I feel like it’s been forever. I want to stay busy and have four fights a year if I can.

“I learned a ton from that fight. Unfortunately, you learn more when you lose than you do when you win. That fight just motivated me even more. I don’t feel like I lost any momentum.

“I think the improvements I’ve made in the gym from that fight until now are the most I’ve had in my career. I’ve learned a ton and I’m ready to put them to use. I think I’m going to go on another tear here.”

While the fight with Larkin has been scheduled for some time now, Camozzi nearly endured a serious case of déjà vu. When British middleweight Michael Bisping was injured prior to UFC Fight Night 30 last month, the promotion shuffled not only that fight card, but the Nov. 6 event as well. When the dust settled, main-event fighter Tim Kennedy was temporarily left without an opponent. Without hesitation, Camozzi took to Twitter and asked for the fight. However, unlike in the bout with Jacare, Camozzi was not chosen to step in. Even with the flirtation of fighting Kennedy, don’t think that Camozzi was ignoring his task at hand.

“I never took my focus off Larkin,” Camozzi explained. “He was my opponent given, and I have to respect him. He’s a tough fighter. I think Larkin and Kennedy are equally tough.

“The reason I campaigned for the Kennedy fight is that it’s the main event and on TV. We’re on Facebook right now. I take nothing away from Larkin. He’s just as tough of a fight. It was just a little Twitter banter, having fun with it. I actually became a fan of Tim Kennedy after that. I like his sense of humor.”

The relegation of Camozzi and Larkin to the Facebook prelims is a bit of a head-scratcher, especially after Camozzi’s prior two appearances included a pay-per-view main card and the aforementioned co-main event on FX. Yet, the chance to get back into the cage is all that matters to the fighter.

“Of course, I want to be on the main card and on TV,” said the lanky middleweight. “But look back at when the undercard was never to be seen; fighting on Facebook is still awesome compared to that.

“With the style that Larkin and I bring, I think it will be ‘Fight of the Night.’ It will be one of the most exciting fights on the card, and either way, I get paid the same. I get paid to fight. I get paid to show up when the UFC tells me to. That’s all up to them. When I’m in the Octagon, I don’t realize whether I’m on TV or not.”

The reason that Camozzi already has his eyes on a bonus come Nov. 6 lies in the stylistic match-up with Larkin. With both fighters frequently looking to win their fights on the feet, don’t expect this contest to turn into a grappling match when the cage door shuts.

“I hope the fight takes place on the feet,” Camozzi said with a laugh. “I’m excited for it. It’s a good test for me. I’ve always enjoyed striking and I’m a huge fan of Muay Thai. That’s definitely my favorite part of mixed martial arts. Stand-up is more exciting. As a fan, when I watch fights, I want to see guys that are both technical and like to bang it out. When I get in there, I want to do the same thing.”

Camozzi (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Camozzi (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Camozzi will have two advantages when he and Larkin step into the Octagon: height and reach. At 6-foot-3, Camozzi is one of the longer fighters in the 185-pound division and, against the 5-foot-11 Larkin, he’ll enjoy a four-inch advantage in reach.

“I hope it plays a big factor,” he stated. “Through the years I’ve gotten better at using my reach and hitting my angles. Larkin is a good, technical striker. We’ve been trying some new approaches in the gym, and I’m looking forward to testing those attacks out in the cage.”

If the potential for bonus money weren’t enough to motivate the Coloradan, the fact that the event has been dubbed Fight for the Troops 3 and is taking place at Fort Campbell in Kentucky certainly is.

“It’s an honor to fight in front of the military and go on the base,” expressed Camozzi. “It’s awesome. It’s something I won’t forget. Being able to give back to them; they’re the reason I’m able to do what I do.

“I have a lot of family in the military, and my father-in-law is actually coming to his first UFC fight. He’s retired military, and he actually flew out of Fort Campbell when he was sent over to Iraq. It’s cool to be able to take him and have this experience.”

If Camozzi’s prediction of a “Fight of the Night” affair holds true, his father-in-law, the troops in attendance and everyone watching at home is in for a treat come Wednesday night.

“I think we’re going to be the two guys slugging it out. There’s some good fights on this card, but if you look at the numbers that I put up and the numbers that Larkin puts up, and it’s built to be a clash,” he declared.

“Everything he puts up is striking. I’ve never been outstruck in the UFC. I land effectively. I land a lot of significant strikes. We’re going to throw down.”

Being that Camozzi has never dropped back-to-back fights in his career, don’t be surprised if he cashes in on this opportunity.

Chris would like to thank his coaches and teammates at Factory X Muay Thai.MMA, his management Ingrained Media, his sponsors: RevGear, Alienware, Bony Acai, Boze Kennels, Virtustream, Bayless Trucking, Enseco, and Vecere and Little P.C. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisCamozzi

 

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