EXCLUSIVE | Diego Ferreira wants ranked opponent after hectic UFC 231 training camp

Diego Ferreira

Diego Ferreira had a crazy fight week in Toronto preparing for UFC 231.

The Brazilian was originally set to take on John Makdessi, but Makdessi got hurt and had to pull out of the fight. Then former UFC fighter Jesse Ronson stepped in to fight Ferreira on short notice, but was quickly pulled from the bout for being too heavy. That was just days before the fight and it left Ferreira wondering if he was going to fight after all.

“I was getting mad, and sad at the same time,” Ferreira said to BJPENN.com. “One opponent change you have to adjust your game, your strategy as well. When the second fighter pulls out, you don’t know if you are going to fight. Then you get scared because after all the work you did, and I have so many things to do for my family, and my kids.”

Then, Ferreira and his team got a phone call saying Kyle Nelson would step in on just days notice to fight him.

“The next few hours I was telling myself, and my team, ‘dude we probably aren’t going to fight, we have to get back home and wait for another card.’ I couldn’t believe it, I started crying, like damn after all this work we did, it is not fair. We all want to fight, we push our limit to get into the cage,” he continued. “I got upset, everything went through my mind. I’m glad, my team and Sean Shelby got me a fight on the last minute. I thank Kyle for stepping in.”

This development caused a sigh of relief for Ferreira, but it was also a cause for concern. Ferreira and his team knew nothing about Nelson and his style of fighting. Ferreira didn’t know if he was about to fight someone who was a good striker or a good wrestler.

“I knew nothing about him. This fight, it is totally a fight,” he said. “We had no idea what to expect, we had no plan. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. I knew he would try and swing at me right away, and take my head off. He had a really hard punch. From there I took over the fight.”

Ferreira did exactly that. He ended up winning the fight in the second round by TKO.

“Everything turned out good. He caught me with the front kick right to my liver, but I knew we were going to continue to fight. I knew we had an advantage on the ground and he didn’t want to go there,” he said. “Once I saw him getting tired I took my time, and from there it was going for the finish.”

With the win, Ferreira improved his overall record to a strong 14-2. He’s now riding a three-fight winning streak with triumphs over Nelson, Jared Gordon, and Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Ferreira is now looking to get a number beside his name in 2019 and really show that he can be a top lightweight.

“I really want a ranked opponent,” he said. “I was on suspension, so I am not really in a rush to get straight to the rankings. I’m not saying I don’t want it, but I want to get to the top-ten, top-five a comfortable way. I have a good amount of fights, wins over tough fighters. Some fighters have ten fight winning streaks, I want to get to that stage so I can be more comfortable to hang with the guys. I just want to fight, I want hard fights. Just to get my hand raised and get to the top-five.”

Ultimately, for Ferreira, the goal is to fight more often in 2019 — three to four times a year if possible. He wants to make up for the time he was off due to his recent USADA suspension. The good news for Ferreira is that he escaped the Nelson fight without any injury and is healthy enough to return in early 2019.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/17/2018.