Vitor Ribeiro. Photo courtesy of Rumble World Entertainment.
After spending over a year recovering from a variety of injuries, former top-ranked lightweight Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro is ready to return to action, and is currently planning for his next bout to take place K-1’s Dynamite!! show on New Year’s Eve.
Ribeiro has four fights left on his current deal with Japan’s Fighting and Entertainment Group, the parent company of K-1, and will likely join DREAM’s budding stable of lightweights at some point next year. Until then, Ribeiro plans on training at his new school: Modern Martial Arts in New York City.
“Everything at my school is going good. There’s been a lot of work to do over the past two weeks but I love my facility,” Ribeiro told MMA on Tap during a recent interview session. “I have a lot of friends and training partners that live nearby and in New Jersey so I try to keep my body in shape by training with them. I also have some guys at my school with good skills in boxing and wrestling that I also train with.”
“Shaolin” owns career victories over some of MMA’s top lightweights, including Mitsuhiro Ishida, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and Joachim Hansen, and has been regularly ranked as one of the top fighters at 155 lbs. over the last few years.
However fans haven’t seen the Brazilian compete since September of last year due to a lingering injury bug that has prevented him from competing. Ribeiro last fought in the K-1 Hero’s middleweight tournament finals last fall, where he submitted Kazuyuki Miyata in the first round before falling to eventual winner Gesias Cavalcante in the semifinals.
Despite such a long layoff, Ribeiro wants to ensure everyone that his health is back to 100% and is looking forward to a planned return bout on December 31, where he could face a yet-to-be-determined opponent at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
“I’m completely healthy right now and I’m attempting to keep on weight for my next fight,” Ribeiro said. “The rumors about me fighting in December are true, that’s what I want to do, but there’s going to be a lot of fights on that card and I need to see if my manager is going to be able to get a fight for me because one of the K-1 rules bouts could easily take my spot.
“Right now it’s up to DREAM’s staff and what they want to do. I haven’t heard anything about a particular opponent as of yet and probably won’t until a couple of weeks before the fight. That’s how they usually do things over in Japan.”
Ribeiro was noticeably absent from the list of fighters that DREAM officials release at a press conference last month and the promotion has yet to make any statement regarding his participation. Whether or not he will actually be able to compete later this year remains to be seen, but thanks to his training partners at his new gym, Ribeiro remains focused on returning to active competition very soon.
“I just want to say thanks to my family for supporting and to the new students at my school that have made it such a wonderful training center so far,” Ribeiro said. “I have to thank the guys that have been working with me at the school because without their help and support, training would be a lot harder than it is.”
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