Gouveia expecting to continue rise, step toward title with UFC 84

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Quietly moving up the light heavyweight ranks in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Wilson Gouveia looks to continue his ascension at UFC 84. He is expected to be part of the main card, taking on a newcomer to the Octagon in Goran Reljik.

Gouveia made his UFC debut back in June of 2006, where he took on MMAWeekly.com's No. 5 ranked light heavyweight Keith Jardine. In a very exciting contest, he came up on the short end losing a unanimous decision to "The Dean of Mean." He rebounded against Wes Combs, defeating him by rear naked choke, and subsequently submitted Seth Petruzelli and Carmelo Marrero.

In his most recent fight, Gouveia faced off against the highly touted Jason Lambert. He passed his test with flying colors, knocking out Lambert in the second round to secure a place for himself in the list of top contenders at 205 pounds.

MMAWeekly Radio spoke with Gouveia recently to discuss his preparation and thoughts for his upcoming bout. "I'm very excited. I feel very, very, very good. I'm in better shape than when I fought Jason (Lambert)."

Reljik will be making his debut in the UFC, and has mostly fought in smaller shows. Since he has only fought in smaller shows, there was not a lot of footage for Gouveia to review and prepare a specific game plan. "To be honest, I have no idea. I watched a highlight video of him on the Internet. It's very difficult. It's kind of hard to find fighting tapes," commented Gouveia.

"I'm kind of going in blind for this fight. I just trained everything for this fight. For him, there is no information at all. I just have to be 100 percent for everything. He's supposed to be a very good jiu-jitsu guy. Every Croatian guy is supposed to be a very good striker. I'm not taking him as just being a jiu-jitsu fight."

Since Reljik is stepping up in competition and exposure, Gouveia feels that can only put more pressure on his upcoming opponent. "I think it's going to be a shock. His fights were in small shows. That's a factor that will be in my favor."

When Gouveia knocked out Lambert, most would believe that his next fight would be against a top ranked opponent. While Gouveia is slightly disappointed about not getting a top ranked contender, he does not take Reljik lightly. However, he would like to get a really tough fight following this one.

"To be honest, I pulled four wins in a row. My last fights I won by submission or knockout. I was expecting a real tough (opponent). It's no problem. I fight anybody they put against me," said the American Top Team fighter. "I want to fight a big name. If I could pick the fights I want right now, I would like to fight Chuck (Liddell) or a rematch against Keith (Jardine). They are the two guys that are in my mind right now. I'm taking this fight very seriously though. I trained very hard."

American Top Team has produced some of the best fighters in the sport today. Their impressive list includes Thiago Alves, Marcus Aurelio, Gesias "JZ" Calvancante, Denis Kang, Thiago Silva and, of course, Gouveia, just to name a few.

Training with such a highly talented team is one of the key components that has Gouveia believing that he will be a world champion. "I think one of the big differences in our team is that we treat everyone like a family. As a team, we're like brothers," he exclaimed.

"We're so organized. We have a schedule and everyone follows the schedule. It's not the kind of gym where you go by yourself and every now and then there will be guys to train with. It's just amazing."

With a win over Reljik, Gouveia is one step closer to completing his goal of becoming a champion. He believes his strong work ethic will help propel him to the pinnacle of most mixed martial artists' dreams. "I'm training very much to be the next UFC light heavyweight champion."

This fight will be a feature fight on the UFC 84 card, which is loaded with some explosive match ups, including the a main event lightweight title bout between current champion B.J. Penn and former champion Sean Sherk.

Gouveia is looking forward to hopefully capturing one of the bonuses that the UFC hands out by delivering a stunning knockout of Reljik. "I'm gonna go knock him out. I'm going to make this fight as quick as I can. Get in and get out."