Interview: Carlo Prater

“it will probably be fight of the night, both of us are skilled fighters and we are determined to win.”

Carlo Prater

Interview by: Lance Edwards
Photos Courtesy: Justin Trapp (AthletePortraits.com)

One of the greatest Houston trained fighters in mixed martial arts is one that has never made TheCageDoor.net rankings, not based on ability but rather, on the fact that he hasn’t fought in Houston since the site started. Hold onto your hats because things are about to change!  On the Legacy 7 card, Carlo Prater (27-10-1)  will face TUF alumni Cameron Dollar (9-2). Despite having less fights Dollar is not an opponent to take lightly. With only one of his eleven professional fights going the distance, Dollar is a finisher and this fight may end up one to remember in the Houston MMA scene.

Carlo Prater is, in my opinion, one of a kind; he embodies everything a great fighter should be. Carlo has a work ethic second to none, a skill set few can equal and to top it off is one of the most genuinely humble and approachable fighters I have ever had the pleasure to have met. His record reads as a who’s who of opponents, having handed the first defeats of their careers to Carlos Condit and Spencer Fisher, with wins over many highly respected fighters and to top it off he is still only thirty.

Carlo Prater was born in Brazil and lived there until he was seven years old at which time he moved to Oklahoma, he wrestled a little in High School and started to get an interest in combat sports. Following his return to Brazil to finish High School, he started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In 1999 Marcus Goes moved to Brasilia and started teaching Luta Livre at his Jiu Jitsu school. Carlo Prater learned both at the same time, and was one of the first black belts in both arts. Luta Livre and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu traditionally had an intense rivalry both in and out of the cage, and at the time training both was not a regular occurrence. Carlo holds a black belt in judo to top off his grappling grades.

In 1998 and 1999, Carlo started training in boxing as well with a Cuban teacher, his father had saved a little money for Carlo to go to college and agreed that Carlo could go to train in Thailand to develop his Muay Thai skills. Upon returning to Brazil, Carlo started a Muay Thai group with some friends, and returned again to Thailand the following year. During this trip he and fought for the famed Sityodtong camp three times. Carlo recalls that he wasn’t getting fights in Brazil at that time, so he decided to move to Texas, where he trained with the likes of Yves Edwards and later with long time coach, Saul Soliz. The last year or two saw Carlo leave Metro Fight Club for Paradigm Wrestling Center and later return to Metro Fight Club again following his long time friend and training partner, Randy Hauer’s return to Metro FC. The last few months have seen Carlo Prater going back to live in Brasilia, Brazil and we took the opportunity to catch up with Carlo since the last time we interviewed him.

TCD: How has it been being back in Brasilia?

Carlo: I love being back, I’m getting good training, training with so many guys. A lot of the guys you wouldn’t know, probably the most famous are Paulo Thiago and Rani Yahya. I represent RFT Luta Livre here, but train at so many places. I am running wrestling classes, and am building up my students.

TCD: Your last two fights have been won extremely quickly in spectacular fashion, to me the old Carlo Prater is back. What’s been different?

Carlo: I feel revitalized, I had got away from what had made me successful as a fighter. My real strength as Muay Thai from Thailand and from my Dutch coaches, and of course my Luta Livre top game. I feel that I’ve got back to that with the help of Saul Soliz. Saul in my opinion is one of the world’s best trainers, he trains you to your strengths, but also polishes your weaknesses.

TCD: In your fight in Sweden against Reza Madadi, to me, you didn’t look as aggressive as you have done in the past, is that something you feel was the case?

Carlo: You know I shouldn’t have taken the fight in Sweden. I got notice six days before and was doing it for the wrong reason, because I needed a pay check. That’s never the right reason to take a fight, and my performance was a reflection.

TCD: Your fight for Strikeforce Challengers  really saw you go back to your old form.

Carlo: My fights for Challengers and IFC were a tremendous success, I had got that fire again. I had remembered what made me start in this sport, I’m a competitive person. Saul’s a master of sport psychology, he knows how to motivate you and bring the best out of you to get success.

TCD: Were you surprised you didn’t get another fight in Challengers?

Carlo: Not really, yes and no. At that time Zuffa bought out Strikeforce, a lot of the guys that had contracts were dropped, but on the other hand I had a good performance and would have liked to have moved across.

TCD: Do you feel you were bought in as a stepping stone for Bryan Travers?

Carlo: Not really, obviously they were building Bryan up, he comes from AKA and has a good background, but he’d fought Pat Healy who’s a guy I’d beaten, so there’s a link there.

TCD: At the fight in Austin, Yves Edwards was there supporting you, is he someone you still work with?

Carlo: Yves and I have a long friendship, and it’s that friendship that keeps us supporting each other. He was in Austin and came out to support me as a friend just as I would if he was in town fighting.

TCD: Prior to that fight you’d had some tough times, some losses, and a lot of fights falling through. Did that spell an end to a period of dark times?

Carlo: I don’t think it really was a period of dark times for me, there were lots of things going on for me, as well as those things you mentioned, there were personal things going on as well. I’m not really at liberty to talk about them, but I really needed to find my true motivation and figure out what I was doing in my career.

TCD: Last time you did an interview for TCD.net you mentioned your BJJ instructor Julio Pudim had been shot in a carjacking, how is he doing?

Carlo: You know he continues to fight. He was shot in the face and neck on his way home after the BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar fight. He has gone from being a tetraplegic to a paraplegic and continues to show betterment, although it’s really slow. He is one of the strongest people, he refuses to give up, he refuses to accept he can’t walk and focuses on walking all the time. He is an inspiration to people in Brasilia, and for me, when I don’t feel like doing what I need to do, I look at his determination to walk and am inspired by him.

TCD: You’ve talked about Luta Livre, and we havent seen many Luta Livre fighters have success in the US until recently, is it popular in Brazil?

Carlo: I wouldn’t say it’s growing, just that the fighters are having the opportunity to fight in bigger shows. My friend Marcelo Brigadeiro has started managing fighters as well as training them, and his guys are coming up (TCD: for those not aware Brigadeiro’s students include the UFC’s Terry Etim, Paul  Taylor and Paul Sass). In Brazil, Luta Livre accounts for only two to three percent of submission grapplers, the rest have BJJ as their base art. Considering such a small number of athletes they are well represented and have good success.

TCD: You mentioned you have been working with a few teams in Brazil, what  teams are those?

Carlo: Well as I said training with Rani Yahya, RFT, Gracie Barra Brasilia and Constrictor Gym, I’ve picked up students and have some great sparring and training there with lots of different guys. I’m also lucky because I have great sparring and training at my pre-fight camps here in Houston.

TCD: What local guys have you been working with?

Carlo: Lee King, Randy Hauer, Ike Villaneueva, and some amateurs who are going to be on the upcoming Legacy amateur card.

TCD: Well I cant wait for the fight, thanks for the interview, any predictions?

Carlo: Not really, although it will probably be fight of the night. Both of us are skilled fighters and we are determined to win.

TCD: Are you pleased to be fighting in front of a home crowd?

Carlo: I’m thrilled, I’m really excited about it. I’ve always considered myself a Houston based fighter, and I’m glad I can finally show the Houston fans what I can do.

TCD: We wish you the best of luck in your fight.