LAS VEGAS – Antonio Arroyo was the only one out of five winning fighters competing that did not receive a UFC contract last year on Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil 1.
That did not deter the Brazilian middleweight, though, as he entered this year’s Dana White’s Contender Series 20 with even more confidence. The night’s headlining spot was an opportunity for him to show the UFC what they initially missed.
He put on an impressive showing at Tuesday’s card at UFC Apex, taking out Stephen Regman in the second round. Arroyo dropped him with a high kick, rained down some punches and eventually transitioned into an arm-triangle choke, submitting Regman in the second round.
Minutes later, UFC president Dana White called his name, and Arroyo received the UFC contract for which he’d been dreaming.
“Most guys come in here and act cool, like ‘Oh yeah, I already knew it,” Arroyo told MMA Junkie post-fight. “It’s (expletive). Nobody knows it. Every fight is a whole different game, every fight is a risk, and to come in here from where I came from and to get it, to finally get it, it’s an accomplishment I can’t put into words.”
Last year, when Arroyo got the call for the Contender Series slot, he was already booked for a fight. That didn’t stop him from taking both, as he notched a first-round submission win at Salvaterra Marajo Fight 8, followed by a unanimous decision win over Diego Henrique at DWCS Brazil just one month later.
Unfortunately, that didn’t result in a UFC contract for Arroyo, and taking two fights in one month may not have given him the time to fully prepare for such a big opportunity. That’s why this time around, he was ready.
“Actually, it made me feel more confident because first time I made it, I made it on kind of short notice,” Arroyo said. “I had another fight coming, I fought in it, it was a mess. This time, no, they gave me three months to train. They gave me the main event so, man, these guys are trying to see something in me, so that made me more confident. That made me train harder, and I knew I had to put on a show. I had to overcome any difficulties, and that’s what I did.”
Tuesday night’s fight was Arroyo’s first since missing out on the UFC contract last year. Since then, he spent time honing his skills and even did some training over at Jackson Wink MMA with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Arroyo came out in this fight aggressive, looking to make an early statement. He landed several brutal body and leg kicks, but Regman was able to weather the storm and even land a brief takedown towards the end of the first round.
In the second round, Regman started to figure out Arroyo’s timing a little and was able to land some good shots on the feet, before a thunderous head kick by Arroyo dropped him, in what was the beginning of the end for Regman.
“The first two shots to the body, I saw that he felt something, but he was a tough guy,” Arroyo said. “He took it, and he landed some good punches, too, but I have a good chin. He gave me a tougher fight than I was expecting.”
So now that he’s in the UFC, what’s next for the Brazilian? He said a fight in his home country would be ideal, but he is open for anything. He knows he has his work cut out for him.
“I would love to fight in Brazil,” Arroyo said. “They have November in Sao Paulo, and that would be awesome, but I’m fighting for the UFC, so anything is good right now. I have a lot of work to come; this is just the start.”
- Live video stream: Dana White's Contender Series 20 pre-show from UFC Apex (7:15 p.m. ET)
- Dana White's Contender Series 20 live results
- MMA Junkie rankings report: Sorting out a big women's fight weekend
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Expectations clear, Antonio Arroyo knew he had to deliver in Dana White's Contender Series 20 headlining slot