Brazilian bantamweight prospect Thomas Almeida will look to rebound from his first professional setback when he takes on Albert Morales in his hometown of Sao Paulo. Almeida dropped his most recent fight back in May when he was overpowered by current title challenger, Cody Garbrandt.
Six months later and Almeida is mentally and physically healed with an opportunity to get back to the winning column. Starting out his UFC career with 4 straight wins and 4 straight performance bonuses, the fans can expect a show from the hometown fighter who’s honoured to be covering the co-main event spot on November 19th.
“It’s a great opportunity that they gave me so I’m very happy with this fight and the opportunity to fight in my hometown,” Almeida said. “I’m training very hard, I had 6 months to prepare my body and my mind for this fight and I’m feeling great.”
Having previously admitted that he never heard of Albert Morales, Almeida still feels he’s a worthy opponent and doesn’t plan on underestimating him. While many expected him to be fighting a ranked opponent, fighting at home makes this fight just as important.
“This motivates me. Fighting in my hometown in front of my friends my family, my training partners is a big opportunity so I’m very happy. I’m not disappointed because all the fighters in the UFC are tough. I don’t know, maybe in the next fight after a great victory versus Albert Morales, I’ll fight a top ten fighter.”
Morales fought to a majority draw in his UFC debut back in September when he took on Alejandro Perez in Hidalgo, Texas. Perez was deducted a point for throwing a punch after the horn but that still wasn’t enough for the judges, as only 1 judge gave the fight to Morales and the other two declared it a draw. Now having studied some tape on his opponent, Almeida knows he’s in for a tough task in a fight that he may have a lot to lose in.
“I saw all his fights on YouTube,” Almeida said. “He has long arms and a better reach than me so I have to use my footwork. He’s a very aggressive jiu-jitsu fighter but I will try to keep the fight standing because I’m a striker. I prefer striking and so do the fans so I’ll use my Muay Thai and boxing.”
An aggressive fighter training at the renowned gym of Chute Boxe in Sao Paulo Brazil, Almeida is looking to add another highlight reel knockout to his resume. Despite his constant display of sharp and brutal Muay Thai, he has focused a lot on his wrestling to ensure that he’s able to defend any ground attack his opponent may throw at him.
“I want to be a great champion so I have to improve my skills; my jiu-jitsu, my wrestling, my boxing, my Muay Thai, my cardio so I’m training hard on all the areas especially the wrestling. I feel like all my opponents try to put me on the ground so I have to defend the takedowns.”
With the past loss to Garbrandt haunting him for quite a while, he has finally put the loss behind him and feels that perhaps this wasn’t the right time for him to contend for a title.
“I don’t think I’m prepared yet to fight for the title,” Almeida said, “This is a tough and long way so I want to be more prepared to get there. I think this isn’t my time; I have to improve and get more experience to get there. I have to concentrate 100% on Albert Morales. He’s a great opponent and he’s tough, hits hard, has great jiu-jitsu and is an offensive fighter.”
Currently ranked at number 11, a win over Morales may not boost his spot in the rankings but it will definitely help build his confidence back. He’s had his eyes on the prize since day one and is willing to take the necessary steps to get there. With Garbrandt set to challenge Dominick Cruz for the title at UFC 207, Almeida feels Cruz will be too much for the young hot prospect, Garbrandt.
“I think Cruz will win because he’s on a different level,” Almeida predicted. “I think he’s the greatest in the division. You have to be patient and wait for the right moment to hit him because his footwork is amazing.”
With less than 3 weeks to go, a revitalized Almeida is ready to have his hometown moment. Having tasted that feeling almost exactly a year ago when he knocked out Anthony Birchak in Sao Paulo, he is thrilled to be fighting at home again. Before I let Almeida go, I asked him 21 fun questions for the fans to get to know him better. Check it out below:
1. Who is your role model?
Almeida: Ayrton Senna (Brazilian racing driver)
2. If you weren’t a fighter, what would you be?
Almeida: A Muay Thai teacher or a pro surfer
3. Favourite subject in High School?
4. Dream venue to fight in?
Almeida: Maybe in Europe, Holland
5. Hardest thing to refrain from when cutting weight?
Almeida: Chocolate & ice cream. I’m like addicted to chocolate.
6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Almeida: Surfing and hanging out with my family.
7. Who are some of your favourite fighters to watch?
Almeida: Jose Aldo and Edson Barboza.
8. Do you have any favourite sports teams?
9. Are you good at any other sports?
Almeida: Soccer and surfing.
10. What’s your favourite food?
Almeida: Italian food; Pasta, lasagna. I also like sushi and BBQs.
11. Favourite place you’ve ever been to?
Almeida: Caribbean Islands.
12. Which country would you like to visit that you’ve never been to?
13. Favourite movie and favourite actor/actress?
Almeida: Movie: Chok Dee (Muay Thai movie). Actor/Actress: Christian Bale & Angelina Jolie.
14. Current favourite song?
Almeida: I really like hip-hop, Notorious B.I.G and Tupac songs.
15. Favourite music artists?
Almeida: Notorious B.I.G, Tupac, Rick Ross, Snoop Dog.
16. Song on your iPod that you’re embarrassed to have?
Almeida: Sertanejo (Country music) it’s getting very popular in Brazil though.
17. What’s your worst pet peeve?
Almeida: When people are disloyal.
18. Favourite fight you’ve ever been in and favourite fight you’ve ever seen?
Almeida: My fight versus Brad Pickett (flying knee KO) and my first fight in Legacy vs. Cody Williams (Right elbow KO). Favourite fight I’ve ever seen was in Cage Rage between Melvin Manhoef and Evangelista Cyborg. In the UFC, it’s Lawler vs. MacDonald 2 (UFC 189).
19. Favourite thing to wear when not working out?
Almeida: Flip flops, t shirt and shorts.
20. Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?
Almeida: Just my surfboard or my dog.
21. What’s the weirdest fan encounter you’ve ever had?
Almeida: Nothing weird just sometimes the fans (girls) send me messages saying I love you, I want to marry you (laughs).