At the beginning of 2016, many predicted that 21-0 Brazilian bantamweight Thomas Almeida would climb to the top of the UFC’s bantamweight rankings by the end of the year, and even potentially earn himself a crack at bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
On May 29th, Almeida stepped into the Octagon against Team Alpha Male prospect Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt, who was also entering the bout undefeated. Ultimately, it took just two minutes and 53 seconds for Garbrandt to finish Almeida with a highlight reel knockout, putting an end to his undefeated streak.
Now, nearly five months later, Almeida is ready to make his return to the Octagon at the UFC’s upcoming show in his hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 19th. He spoke to MMAJunkie to discuss the loss, and his desire to fight at UFC Fight Night 100 in November:
“A lot [has changed]. So many things. I’m more focused, hungry and I’m happier in training. I now go into every training session with the same energy I had when I first started training. That hunger, that was something good that changed a lot.
“You’ll see the improvements in the next fight.”
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about (the loss). I’m thinking about it when I wake up, I go to bed thinking about it, I train thinking about it, all the time. But I can’t let it get to me. I need to see it as growth, see what’s wrong and improve and keep my eye on the goal – which is to be champion.”
“(Losing) is very sad,” Almeida said. “It’s terrible, a feeling I don’t wish upon anyone. After it’s done and you calm down, it’s different. But at that moment it’s very bad, very frustrating. It’s a sadness with myself: ‘How did I let this happen?’ I demand a lot from myself and it’s not nice, but that’s part of it.
“It’s a learning experience, as well. You learn a lot in defeat. I know because in my muay Thai career I suffered a few losses. So I know how you need to make the best of the situation and grow – have a champion’s mind and look for a goal.”
When Almedia does return to the Octagon, who would you like to see him fight? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below PENN Nation!