SAO PAULO, Brazil — Marcelo Guimaraes hasn’t fought since March 2016 and though he’s not quite ready to return, he doesn’t see his comeback as being too far off.
The former Jungle Fight welterweight champion signed with the UFC in 2013 and decided to move up to middleweight after losing his debut to Hyun Gyu Lim. “Magrao” defeated Andy Enz the following year, before coming back in 2016 to lose to Vitor Miranda. That’s when Guimaraes was forced to take another long break from the sport.
Magrao suffered a knee injury and had to go under the knife in July 2016, but post-surgery issues forced him to undergo another procedure a couple of months later.
“The first surgery should be simple, but I had septic arthritis and had to undergo another surgery,” Guimaraes told MMA Fighting. “I was in the hospital for 20 days and my leg atrophied. When I returned to training, I got injured again.”
The 34-year-old Guimaraes hopes to finally reenter the Octagon again in March 2018. In the meantime, Magrao makes money with the American Top Team gym he opened in Espirito Santo, Brazil.
“I can’t wait to train in my own gym,” he said. “It’s frustrating because you see everyone training and fighting, the UFC getting bigger and paying fighters better, and you only get paid if you fight. That’s the bad part. But I’m getting ready to come back a better fighter.”
Guimaraes always had a rough time cutting weight to compete at 170 pounds, and decided to move up to middleweight after Leandro Souza‘s death prior to a Shooto Brazil event in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. Four years later, the UFC fighter has decided to drop down again.
“I want to go back at welterweight,” he said. “I weigh around 190 pounds now, so I fit better in that division. I haven’t tried the early weigh-ins yet, but it’s great. I think it’s healthier for the athlete. The sport is getting better every day.”