In an era that seems to be seeing more and more fighters leave the UFC in favor of a Bellator roster spot, Augusto Sakai is happy to be doing the opposite.
“I did very well in Bellator,” Sakai told MMAjunkie in his native Portuguese. “I had great fights there. I had a very good record there. I knew I just had to keep working so I’d eventually get into the UFC. I had a lot of faith in that. Now, thankfully I’m in the UFC.
“It was the reverse path. A lot of people leave the UFC for Bellator. I left Bellator for the UFC.”
Sakai fought six times under the Bellator banner, and the heavyweight put together a respectable 4-1-1 mark for the promotion. In late 2017, Sakai took a fight on the Brazilian regional scene and then, earlier this year, was awarded a spot on Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil 1, where he scored a second-round TKO over an undersized Marcos Conrado.
Now Sakai (11-1-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) faces Chase Sherman (11-5 MMA, 2-4 UFC) at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 137, which takes place at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo. The main card airs on FS1 following prelims on FS2 and UFC Fight Pass.
Sakai and Sherman kick off the FS2-televised prelims.
“(Sherman) has been in the UFC for some time,” Sakai said. “My team and I have studied him. We’ve put a strategy together. Now we’re sharpening things. I’ll impose my game and get the win.
“I didn’t stop training after my fight at Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil. Now I’m just adjusting a few more things, and we’re ready to fight.”
Astute MMA fans might remember that Sakai’s Bellator run didn’t exactly end on a high note, with his final two appearances admittedly a little lackluster. However, the Brazilian slugger believes his two post-Bellator fights are more indicative of his abilities.
“There were a couple of fights where things didn’t work out as expected,” Sakai said. “But if you look at my last two fights, I fought differently. I was more aggressive.
“Those other fights were a temporary setback. I’ll keep doing things my way, going forward.”
And he’ll get to display his skills in front of a friendly crowd. After traveling to Las Vegas for the Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil opportunity, he’s now back in Brazil and hoping to impress in his official UFC debut.
“A fighter is never truly relaxed, but without a doubt, it’s great to have my first UFC bout in Brazil,” Sakai said. “I hope for a great win. To be able to count on the support from all the Brazilian fans on my debut, that’s really nice.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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