The leader of Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, California, Rafael Cordeiro is known by many fans as the trainer of such current MMA stars as UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos, and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

But the man they call “Master” Rafael (shown above, far left, celebrating a recent victory with Dos Anjos and others) has a long history in the sport: dating back to the wild days of Brazil’s vale tudo scene on the 1990’s. There he led the infamous Academia Chute Boxe in Curitiba, Brazil, and helped guide the careers of Anderson Silva, Murilo “Ninja” Rua, Wanderlei Silva, and many more.

So, when he talks, people listen.

Recently, the legendary trainer sat down with Canadian MMA journalist Carlin Bardsley for In the Cage after conducting a seminar at Evolução Thai, a Toronto MMA academy established by two of his former students.

Asked about the upcoming bout between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Khabib Nurmogomedov, a bout with strong title implications for the victor, Cordeiro made a clear choice for favorite.

“It’s going to be a tough fight for both, we’ve had the opportunity to fight against both. In different ways it’s going to be a tough fight for both. Cowboy has great stand-up but good jiu-jitsu too, and Khabib likes to hold little bit more. He doesn’t open his game; he likes to grab people against the cage and hold them there. This was the way the he beat Rafael [dos Anjos] back in the day. So now, it’s going to be a tough fight. But I believe Cerrone can beat Khabib.”

Cordeiro, who still takes the mat to spar and drill with his fighters, mentioned that he will train Maurcio “Shogun” Rua again for his next bout — and is in the process of moving his old charge to California. He also compared his old Chute Boxe style to the tone at Kings MMA.

“I develop the game every day with my fighters, I still learn a lot. When you train with your fighters, it’s easy to get that connection. What’s changed is I train more with wrestling coaches, and new guys with conditioning — it’s something we didn’t work before.”

Here is the full interview: