Road to Brave Combat Federation 14: interview with Danyel Pilò
Danyel Pilò (10-1-2 MMA, 0-0 BRAVE) is the next Italian athlete set to fight in a foreign promotion. For his international debut, he couldn’t have a more challenging, and at the same time stimulating, opportunity: a match against former UFC fighter Jeremy Kennedy (11-1 MMA, 0-0 BRAVE). The young Canadian, in fact, has been released by the most important promotion in the world, as he stated himself in recent interviews, exclusively because he was not able to be sufficiently spectacular in his performances inside the octagon, even though he amassed a record of 3 victories and just a single defeat (at the hands of Alexander Volkanovski).
To add prestige to the match, there’s the fact that this will be the first event held in Morocco by the ambitious promotion from Bahrain.
In light of all this, we took the opportunity to contact Danyel and ask him a few questions before this crucial appointment.
MMA Today: You returned to action after a long layoff at Golden Cage 2 against Dragan Pesic, whom you defeated in a fight that had a strange finale. Besides the end of the match, how do you evaluate your performance in your last fight? Are you satisfied by it, or is there something you think you could have done better?
Danyel Pilò: I don’t think the end of the match can be defined “strange”. The referee declared the TKO because of the ground and pound that my opponent was receiving; so I believe that it was the right call, actually, perhaps, he could have stopped the fight a few seconds earlier… I liked my composure in the match, although I would’ve liked to exchange more on the feet. Anyway Dragan is a great guy.
MT: After Daniele Scatizzi, you are the second Italian to be featured in the roster of Brave CF. What’s your opinion of this promotion? Can you tell us if you signed a multiple-fight contract like “Scat”?
DP: Well, the promotion is already among the best in the world (otherwise “Scat” wouldn’t have signed with them) and it’s still growing, obviously I am very honored to be able to perform on a stage of this level. For this great opportunity I also have to thank my managers Samuele Sanna and Luca Messina who have worked hard to allow me to fight at Brave 14. I think my record also helped a little bit, though… as far as my contract I can’t say too much about it, sorry.
MT: The event in which you’ll be fighting represents the first in Africa for the Middle Eastern promotion. How do you feel about fighting in the co-main event of such an important show? What are the positive aspects and the difficulties in having a match abroad, in a different continent although not too distant from Italy?
DP: I didn’t expect to be featured in the co-main event of such a great card, when I found out I almost couldn’t believe it; for me it’s a real honor. The positive aspects for sure are the visibility, the possibility to measure myself against opponents of the caliber of Jeremy Kennedy and to be honest, the fight purse (unfortunately our local promotions can’t afford to hand out great pays – yet). The difficulties are surely — as usual — the weight-cut, the training and having to balance everything with working a full-time job… as far as the fight being abroad or in Italy I don’t think the difficulties change; actually I’m happy to have the possibility to travel the world doing what I love.
— BRAVE CF (@bravemmaf) 15 luglio 2018
MT: Did you have to do more promotion than usual before the match, in particular as far as media obligations? If so, how was your experience with the promotional aspect of Mixed Martial Arts?
DP: Yes, the organization sent a film crew that followed and filmed me for a whole day. It was a lot of fun; my manager Samuele Sanna who also spent the day with us helped me too. And the guys from my team as well (La Superba – Luta Livre Italia) accompanied me through the experience.
MT: The opponent for your debut, Jeremy Kennedy, isn’t for sure a newcomer with 11 victories, 1 lone defeat and a record of 3-1 in the UFC. Do you believe this is the right opponent for you in this moment of your career?
DP: Certainly it will be a very hard challenge, Jeremy and I have a very similar record, although mine is based on matches that, although at a good level, are not comparable to his experience in the UFC. Anyway, at this point of my career and considering my record, the decision to fight an opponent of this level was almost a given.
MT: In his latest outings, the Canadian has showed to be very skilled in wrestling, through which he is often able to “cancel out” his opponents’ strongpoints. How do you feel about that? Do you believe that his style matches up well with your skills?
DP: Jeremy is a really complete athlete, but that’s also one of my strongpoints. In my case too wrestling and luta livre have, often, made the difference in my matches. The credit should also go to my coach M. Andrea Lavaggi and to our team’s fighting style. I believe that my opponent and me have similar skills: it’s going to be a great battle.
MT: Most international experts see you as the underdog in this match; if nothing else because of the gap in notoriety there is between the two of you. Kennedy himself, in comparing your careers, has said that the competition he’s faced is much higher than yours. Have these considerations lit a fire under you in training camp or did you not care about them too much? Do you think that experience will be an important factor in your clash?
DP: Everybody knows he has a record of 3-1 in the UFC, there’s not much to say about that. But this adds intrigue to the challenge, and has hyped me up very much; can he say the same? After all he is a human being like everyone else: he has 2 arms and 2 legs. Besides, as you know, I don’t like to talk, especially before my matches; I’m someone who likes to work hard and sweat without saying too much, I’ll do my talking in the cage when the time comes. It’s undeniable that I am the underdog, but don’t you watch American movies? Everybody always roots for the underdog…
MT: Kennedy has declared to MMA Fighting that he is still in good terms with the UFC and that he chose to compete elsewhere to showcase his skills and convince once and for all the high powers of the promotion. Therefore this match will have lots of eyes on it: do you think that with a victory at Brave 14 the call from the “big show” could come for you? If so, would you accept an all-or-nothing chance at the Contender Series events?
DP: Well, right now I am only thinking about the present, which is the next match and I just want to concentrate on my opponent. Obviously if I received a call from the “big show” I would accept without thinking twice about it; I believe that’s the dream of every MMA fighter.