CES 45: Juliano Coutinho Looking to Be Crowned the Baddest Man In New England
This Friday, August 11th, Juliano Coutinho (7-3) will return to the cage for the first time in almost fourteen months. The New England-based, native of Brazil last competed in June of 2016 for the World Series of Fighting organization, when he lost to current UFC heavyweight Justin Willis by second round knockout. The road back hasn’t been easy for the soft-spoken but jovial big man affectionately nicknamed “Banana”. Injuries have kept the 6’0″, 260 lbs heavyweight out of action for over a year, but after allowing a broken orbital and a hamstring injury to properly heal, Coutinho believes he is back and better than ever. On Friday, August 11th, Coutinho will return to the cage to headline CES 45, which takes place live from the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island, and will air live on AXS TV.
Does challenger Juliano "Banana" Coutinho keep our heavyweight title in New England after he meets Arizona's Ashley Gooch at CES 45 on August 11 at Twin River Casino?!Don't miss the action ➡ CESMMA.com
Coutinho’s journey into martial arts dates back over 20 years to Brazil, when Coutinho started working with world renowned BJJ practitioner Daniel Gracie. Coutinho remembers going to watch a jiu jitsu tournament with Gracie, who was serving as his coach at the time. Much to Coutinho’s surprise, he wouldn’t be a spectator that day. Gracie had actually signed Coutinho up for the tournament, and even brought a gi for Coutinho to wear. Coutinho recalls being so nervous that he almost passed out. Coutinho didn’t apparently have too much too worry about on the mats that day however, as he won both of his matches and was crowned the champion in his respective heavyweight division. Eventually, Coutinho made his way to the United States and found himself living on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Coutinho met up with coach Mike “Loco Lobo” Gresh, and from there began fighting professionally. Coutinho’s first fight was held in Brockton, MA, a fight in which he lost by knockout in exactly one minute. Reflecting back, Coutinho believes he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he signed up for the bout. Coutinho didn’t get too discouraged by his debut loss. To ensure his next fight didn’t go down in the same manner as his first bout, Coutinho took almost three entire years off from competing, to focus exclusively on training. The hard work seemingly paid off as “Banana” went on an impressive tear, winning his net six bouts with five coming by way of finish.
After destroying the competition on the New England regional scene, Coutinho was finally picked up by a big promotion, World Series of Fighting. In his promotional debut, Coutinho took on famed Olympic wrestler, Steve Mocco. Mocco handed Coutinho his first loss in over three years, submitting the Brazilian inside the first round. Coutinho went back to the drawing board, made some improvements and resigned with the promotion which had helped build him during his earlier win streak, CES MMA. Back with CES, Coutinho defeated Chaz Morgan by split decision in his return fight, and was once again signed by WSOF. Still looking to pick up his first win for WSOF, Coutinho would face off against Daniel Cormier protege, Justin “Big Pretty” Willis. Willis would prove to be a difficult task for Coutinho, who says he never had experienced competing against anyone like Willis ever before. “I felt pretty good, the only thing was how massive big he was. I went to try and take him down, and it was like trying to take down a wall,” laughs Coutinho. At the beginning of the second round, Willis was able to catch Coutinho with a vicious punch, finishing the adopted New Englander in front of a hometown crowd. Following their bout, Willis was signed to the UFC, and has since gone 1-0 in the promotion.
For the past year, Coutinho has tried his best to stay active in the gym despite healing up a broken orbital from the Willis bout, and a torn hamstring suffered in training while preparing for a bout against Keith Bell in CES. Completely healthy, Coutinho is feeling great going into his title fight this Friday. Opposite Coutinho will be the current CES Heavyweight Champion, Ashley “Gio” Gooch (10-5). Gooch won the vacant CES title approximately one year ago when he defeated Greg Rebello in devastating fashion. Despite being 42 years of age, Gooch is one of the best heavyweights in the United States, outside of a major promotion. Coutinho is familiar with Gooch, as Gooch had won the CES title by knocking out Coutinho’s training partner at Sityodtong, Greg Rebello. When assessing the matchup, Coutinho knows it’s the heavyweight division where anything can happen, but feels that he sees some holes in Gooch’s game which he should be able to take advantage of. “I see that he doesn’t have a lot of movement. I’m definitely going to be more agile than he is and I’m looking to take this fight to the ground,” explains the 39 year-old Coutinho. “He’s a good fighter with heavy punches, but who doesn’t have that in the heavyweight division?”
At 39 years of age, Coutinho doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be competing for, but is going to make sure that he doesn’t stay past his welcome. He’s always told himself that he won’t push himself past the point of competing healthily. With that being said, Coutinho believes that this is one of the best camps he’s ever had working with Mark Della Grotte and company at Sityodtong Boston in Sommerville, Massachusetts, and teaching at Juniko in Andover, Massachusetts. Due to adjustments he has recently made, Coutinho even went as far as to say that this is the best he’s physically felt in years. One such adjustment is his new strength and conditioning coach at Skill of Strength (SOS), Mike Perry. Perry has been credited with being a huge part of the recent success of Massachusetts-based fighters such as Rob Font and Calvin Kattar.
“For this, I’m bringing everything with me that I’ve been training through the years. I just take it as a challenge.”
To win the CES Heavyweight Championship would mean the world to Coutinho, who has accomplished a lot fighting professionally since 2009, but who has not had the opportunity to fight for a title. “All the hard times. All the hard training. All of the sacrifice that we put on our bodies and on our families and friends and things you like to do on a regular basis,” says Coutinho. “For this, I’m bringing everything with me that I’ve been training through the years. I just take it as a challenge.” Asked for a prediction on how the fight will end, the BJJ black belt’s answer shouldn’t surprise anyone, “A submission! That’s my world!” With the UFC on a one-month hiatus, all eyes in the MMA world will be on Lincoln, Rhode Island this weekend, as Coutinho and Gooch clash live on AXS TV.
Ashley Gooch vs. Juliano Coutinho takes place Friday, August 11th at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. The card will air live on AXS TV at 9pm EST. It will be the final bout of the evening as it will serve as the evening’s main event.