Exclusive: ‘JZ’ Cavalcante talks leaving ATT, frustration waiting for next Strikeforce fight, and more

Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante (15-4-1) was considered one of the best lightweight fighters on the planet for many years until injuries forced him out of action for over a year on two occasions — between April 2008 and May 2009, and May 2009 to July 2010. Now that he’s getting healthy, Cavalcante showed that the talent is still there as he lost a controversial split decision to Josh Thomson in his Strikeforce debut on Oct. 9.

Unfortunately, JZ hasn’t been able to get back in the cage since then, and it’s not for a lack of trying on his part. He’s been training consistently since December and keeping in touch with Strikeforce about when he’ll return. However, each time he thinks Strikeforce has something lined up, they tell him he’ll have to wait until the next event.

Also, JZ recently made news when he, Jorge Santiago, Danillo Villefort, and Yuri Villefort decided to leave American Top Team and train elsewhere. In this one-on-one interview with ProMMAnow.com, Cavalcante talked about all of this and more, including his inability to get a paycheck from his July 2010 DREAM fight — though he points out that MMA isn’t important right now as the country tries to recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

ProMMAnow.com: Hi JZ, thanks for speaking with us. First off, it’s been awhile since your last fight, what’s been the hold up?

JZ Cavalcante: Last time I spoke to Strikeforce, they promised a fight on the April 9 card. And then suddenly they said, no, the card is busy. Now I don’t know. I don’t have a date for a fight. That’s what they’ve been doing with me since December. I don’t know if they’re just disorganized or have something against me. They said no, December [won’t work], so then January. Then January came and, no, the card is full. Then Feburary…and it keeps going.

ProMMAnow.com: Do you think it is because there aren’t enough fighters available at lightweight?

JZ Cavalcante: They have the fighters…sometimes they exchange fighters with Japan. I don’t know what to say. I know I want to fight, I know I’ve been training and I’ve been asking for a fight. I talk to them all the time. At least if they’d be honest with me and say, “We’re not going to use you on this card, or “Your’re not going to be on the next month;” I keep training and thinking I’m going to fight, cutting weight, then three weeks or four weeks before, they say ‘we’re not going to use you on this card,’ and it’s frustrating. I hope now that Zuffa bought them, they’re going to get more organized.

ProMMAnow.com: Also, word recently came out that you, Jorge Santiago, Danillo Villefort, and Yuri Villefort left American Top Team. I know guys change camps sometimes and it’s just part of the business, but talk about what led you guys to decide to go elsewhere.

JZ Cavalcante: The plan is, we just want to train with whoever we want and just do our own thing. I have nothing against ATT. I spoke to everyone there and they understand our situation. I love everybody there.

ProMMAnow.com: So basically you’re looking for more flexibility in your training routine?

JZ Cavalcante: Yeah, exactly.

ProMMAnow.com: Speaking of Danilo, he had a fight this past Friday at Shark Fights against Matt Horwich and he looked really good. I was impressed with his Judo throws. What did you think of his performance?

JZ Cavalcante: That was a great performance. Matt is a tough guy. Danillo got to him with good combos, good elbows. The guy is real tough and keeps coming and keeps coming, but Danilo fought well, getting the clinch, takedowns, Judo takedowns. A lot of people that work on wrestling don’t expect that approach. He’s getting more mature all the time he fights. I hope now it’s time for him to get back in the UFC.

ProMMAnow.com: MMA in Japan is really struggling right now. Sengoku recently announced that it lost its main sponsor and DREAM has had trouble paying guys like yourself on time. Since you fought there for so long, is it disappointing to see MMA struggle over there?

JZ Cavalcante: Yeah, for sure. Especially when PRIDE was around, MMA was really huge in Japan. It’s still huge, but I think they didn’t catch up with the worldwide development of MMA. I fought for DREAM in July and still haven’t been paid. It’s ridiculous, but that’s how they’ve been. They don’t answer calls, they don’t call, they don’t say anything. I keep hearing that they’re waiting for an investor, but it’s kind of hard, especially with the whole situation in Japan because of the earthquake and tsunami. I’m sure nothing’s focused there on MMA right now, they’re just trying to get back on there feet.

ProMMAnow.com: Absolutely. I know everyone is hoping that the situation there can start to turn around. Since you’ve fought there so many times, have you been able to find out if the people you know over there are OK?

JZ Cavalcante: My first concern when I heard that was because Jessica Aguilar and Marcus Parrumpinha, who was my Jiu Jitsu coach on American Top Team, they were there because Jess was supposed to fight. When I first hear that, I freaked out and started calling everybody. But then, a couple minutes later, a friend of mine told me everyone was OK there. And Parrumpinha got in touch with me and said the people he knows there are OK.

I have a couple guys that I sent emails and they didn’t returned yet, but I think it’s because they have problems with the electricity there. But I just hope that everyone there is OK and things get better.

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