JZ Cavalcante back to 100% for Strikeforce bout with Josh Thomson

If you’re a fan relatively new to the sport of mixed martial arts or don’t spend much time following the major Japanese promotions, look out, because (15-3-1) is coming to Strikeforce on Oct. 9 in San Jose, Calif.

His opponent, former Strikeforce lightweight champion (17-3), is no slouch either, making for one of the more intriguing match-ups you’ll find outside of the UFC.

With wins over the likes of Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro and Caol Uno, as well as fights with Tatsuya Kawajiri and Shinya Aoki under his belt, JZ is used to testing himself against the best, and he sees Thomson as in that class.

“Josh is a former champion … I like to be challenged,” JZ said during a Friday Strikeforce media call. “I think the fans want to watch this fight; I, as a fan, would want to watch this fight.”

Like Thomson, Cavalcante has battled the injury bug recently. He only had two fights in all of 2008 and 2009 combined – a controversial no contest and decision loss to Aoki, followed by a decision loss to Kawajiri.

But JZ recently made it through a 15 minute fight at DREAM 15 against Katsunori Kikuno relatively unscathed, and feels as if he’s back to full strength.

“After awhile, I’m finally back [to] feeling good,” JZ said. “I’m much more confident now. Mentally, physically, I’m in balance.”

Since he’s fought primarily in Japan, most of JZ’s fights have come in a ring, while the Strikeforce bout will take place in a cage. However, JZ often trains in a cage to help his teammates at American Top Team prepare for their fights and believes his style could benefit from the change.

“I train a lot in the cage,” JZ said. “My teammates, most of the guys fight in the cage.

“For sure [there is] a difference, but [I’m] already comfortable there. I think my game also works good in the cage…maybe better than the ring.”

Although he’s looking to move back up the lightweight ladder and will fight in front of many American fans for the first time, Cavalcante doesn’t feel any additional pressure.

“I don’t feel pressure,” JZ said. “Most regular fans don’t know me or what to expect. [There is] more pressure when people know you and expect you to do well.”

But JZ knows what to expect against Thomson, another very well-rounded fighter with strong grappling and striking skills.

“We don’t have advantage really well … in any area,” JZ said. He can stand up, go to the ground, take me down … I’m [just] looking to create [an opening] in the fight.”

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