Virtually every path in life has a fork in the road moment. For Professional Fighters League star Smealinho Rama, that moment seems to have arrived.

Rama will be competing for the second time in the 205-pound division at the upcoming Professional Fighters League: Daytona event. The card will take place during the Coke Zero 400 Weekend Powered by Coca-Cola. The Professional Fighters League athletes will have an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on league officials as the new promotion heads in to its inaugural season. Looking to play the part of spoiler is Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, Ronny Markes.

“The fight speaks for itself,” Rama said of the bout. “He’s going to try and pressure me and take me down. I’m going out there to knock the guy out. That’s theĀ match up. That’s what fans want to see. One cancels the other. What’s going to happen? Tune in to watch, but I know I’m going to blast him. I’m going to break him.”

The former WSOF heavyweight champion has reason to feel confident. Sporting a 10-2 record, Rama has only lost to the current heavyweight champ Blagoy Ivanov and UFC heavyweight Anthony Hamilton. Beyond those, Rama has finished all but one of his opponents en route to victory. The impressive run has propelled Rama to new heights in his new division.

While competing in the heavyweight division, Rama gradually dropped weight each time he stepped on the scales. Finally, the former heavyweight made a successful light heavyweight debut at WSOFNYC against Jake Heun. Rama looked light on his feet and seemed as quick as ever while slugging it out with Heun.

“Yeah definitely,” Rama said in regards to noticing changes while competing at 205-pounds. “It’s not that I felt stronger, it’s that guys felt lighter. I felt like I moved faster and could see things quicker just because i was able to move around better due to the loss of weight.”

With the successful light heavyweight debut behind him, the former WSOF champ could focus on making yet another title run. The only issue was that Rama’s teammate and friend David Branch was the current WSOF light heavyweight champ. The roadblock was removed as Branch recently rejoined the UFC’s ranks. With nothing to hold him back, Rama understands the time for seizing the opportunity is now.

 

“David and I are friends and training partners,” Rama said. “We know each other very well. I was with him every day while he was training for his UFC comeback. This division is mine to take and that’s what I’m here to do.”

A win over the Brazilian Markes would do a great deal for Rama’s prospects moving forward. The former UFC middleweight has bounced through the regional scenes competing at a number of different weight classes. He’s also competed in the Submission Underground grappling promotion. A veteran with a great deal of knowledge in Brazilian jiu-jitsu could prove to be a major obstacle to Rama’s dream of taking over the 205-pound division.

“I train with black belts every day,” Rama said of Markes’ ground game. “Of course I’m training for him. I respect his jiu-jitsu game. He knows what he’s doing. I expect him to be strong because he’s done jiu-jitsu his whole life. But this is MMA and it’s a fight.”

Rama has reason to be confident in his skills heading into the bout with Markes. Rama has out struck his last three opponents 168-66. If the fight does go to the ground, Rama is certain his training camps will prepare him for anything Markes throws his way.

“Now that I’m training at Jackson’s and my base being at Renzo Gracie‘s, my ground has improved tremendously,” Rama said. “I’m growing tremendously in every aspect of the sport. I’m just looking to get better finishes and wins over high quality opponents. I’m training at the two best gyms in the world. I expect better results with each fight.”

A new wrinkle that fans can look forward to is Rama’s offensive grappling skills. Always working on his takedown defense considering his striking prowess, Rama has recently started training with some of the best wrestlers in the world. The improvements to his wrestling game will make Rama a truly dangerous opponent in every aspect of the fight.

“I’m training at New York Athletic Club,” Rama said. “It’s been the best wrestling club in the world for 80-plus years. I’ve had the pleasure of going over there to work with those athletes and I’m just growing constantly every day.”

Competing at arguably NASCAR’s most historic track, Rama admits that although a win over Markes would be a great name to add to his resume, he has some extra motivation at #PFLDaytona.

“I’m not a NASCAR fan just because I’ve never watched it,” he admits. “But I am a fan of the blonde southern girls that watch NASCAR. I’m a big fan of what’s going on at Daytona. Those blonde, blue-eyed girls with those southern accents just destroy me.”

Rama is banking on the “G.R.I.T.S” being the only thing that destroys him in Daytona. Be sure to tune in and see if Rama’s striking will prove to be too much for the grappling prowess of Markes. The action kicks off at 10:30 p.m. ET on June 30. Fans who can’t make it to sunny Florida can tune in to NBCSN to catch all of the action.