Road to Venator Kingdom 2: interview with Raffaele D’Eligio
BJJ, historical football, MMA: different worlds, hard worlds, worlds in which Raffaele D’Eligio (3-0 MMA) is at his ease. On December 16th at Venator Kingdom 2, his determination and talent will be put on display for the first time in the organization of Frank Merenda and Alex Dandi, during the match against Leonardo Damiani in the welterweight division.
Before the scheduled appointment in Milan, the Florentine athlete gave an interview to MMA Today, which is shown below.
MMA Today: This will be your Venator debut. What did you make of the promotion?
Raffaele D’Eligio: I believe that, among all the promotions existing in Italy, Venator is one of the most important stepping stones. I think it’s one of the most prestigious circuits in our country and beyond. It’s the first time I fight in this event, but also from the outside we see that there is a great organization behind it, with high-level fights and very good athletes. I’m happy to be able to take part in it and I’m preparing very well for this.
MT: Did you have the chance to see your opponent live in action? What kind of a fighter he seemed to you?
RD: In general I know little about my opponent, I usually do not like studying them. I saw something just to see the style and type of fighter, then I rely on my coach for the preparation. He is definitely a tough opponent and we’re going to give a good show. I prepare to be at the top and take advantage of my strengths to the fullest.
MT: This is your second match in 2017, having only fought once in each of the previous 2 years. Do you plan to be more active in this sport from 2018?
RD: Actually my official score is 4 matches, all won. For some strange reason, the record was not updated with the last match I won on May 20th in Pescara for Fight1, but I will ask for the correction. Surely I want to be more active in 2018, I have goals that I want to achieve and I will prepare for this. This year I fought few times also for organizational reasons, I’m planning with my team my next sporting appointments. Unfortunately, in Italy it is difficult to find good opportunities and to be able to prepare them, given that most of the fighters are also dealing with their jobs. Furthermore, unfortunately, sponsors are not as active as in other countries, although the level of media attention towards MMA in general is rising a lot in recent times.
MT: The welterweight division which you belong to is perhaps the most talent-rich in Italy. After overcoming the obstacle Damiani, is there any fighter in the top 15 that you would like to meet in the future?
RD: My weight class is the most populated one, surely it is more difficult to make your own way. I think I need to risk more and face the strongest athletes. There is not a specific fighter I would like to face, at least for now. Let’s see what the future holds for me, but I definitely want to confront myself with the strongest athletes.
MT: You can define yourself as a polyhedric athlete, successful not only in MMA but also in historical football and in brazilian jiu jitsu: what do you owe your versatility to in various disciplines?
RD: Yes, besides MMA I’m a BJJ competitor and a historical football player. Historical football is a very important piece of my life and it is the most challenging one, because as you can imagine there is a much stronger emotional attachment to it. The preparation for historical football is very hard, in which I try to adopt everything I can do both in MMA and BJJ. The games last 50 minutes, so you have to be physically and mentally ready for anything. I think this is an advantage in MMA I have compared to my opponents. Every time I go out in the field to represent the colors of my neighborhood, it is a real war, since we “play” without any protection and few rules. This helps me a lot in all the other competitions.
MT: Speaking of historical football, tell us a little about this discipline. Would you call it somehow tougher than MMA?
RD: It’s very different. As mentioned, the emotional component also comes into play, you have to stay focused for 50 minutes. In addition to this, being a traditional sport of Florence, it is very felt by everyone and even in the months before the game you feel a great pressure. The workouts are very hard, you compare yourself with athletes who come from boxing, from wrestling or who have different backgrounds, all very diverse from each other. It takes a lot of courage to get on the field and I do not lack that , then I take it to the cage, of course.