Diego Ferreira faces Rustam Khabilov in the preliminary portion of UFC Prague on Saturday night, but “Tiger” is not the first Russian that Ferreira had to deal with in 2019.
Weeks before his upcoming fight in Czech Republic, the Brazilian discovered that someone had tried to hack into his email and social media accounts. He was fast to respond and able to prevent most of the damage, but he saw his Instagram page disappear before his eyes.
”When I checked my email, it said someone from Russia tried to hack my Facebook, my email and some other stuff,” Ferreira told MMA Fighting. “I was able to save my Facebook and other social media, but couldn’t save my Instagram. Someone hacked it and deleted all my family photos, photos from my fights, everything I had.”
Ferreira will never know for sure, but thinks that one of Khabilov’s fans could be the brains behind the attack on his Instagram page.
”Fans do anything for their idols, so I don’t get mad,” Ferreira said. “I was a bit disappointed because, damn, I lost so many family photos, things I can’t recover. I lost eight years of photos. I was upset because of that, but if that was one of his fans, no problem. They want to get inside my head, but it’s part of the game.”
Days before UFC Prague, Ferreira at least got some good news: Instagram was able to recover his account — and all of the photos he had posted over almost a decade.
With his online battle now over, the lightweight can focus on stopping his Russian foe inside the Octagon. After having “some highs and lows” since joining the promotion, Ferreira feels “motivated and focused” for the fight.
”He’s a tough fighter, but as I said to my coach, I have to fight the best if I want to become one of the best,” Ferreira said. “I’m in the UFC since 2014, so I have to fight someone at this level to prove I belong. I have to get through someone like him to get to the top 15 or top 10.”
Khabilov was only submitted once in his 26-fight career in MMA, when he tapped to a rear-naked choke versus former UFC and WEC champion Ben Henderson in 2014. However, Ferreira still expects to have an advantage on the ground.
”It’s gonna be a tough fight,” Ferreira said. “He fights to score points and go the distance, and I go there to put on a great fight, to kill or die, and give fans what they want. I’m going for the finish. I’m going there to win no matter how.”
Becoming the one to stop Khabilov’s six-fight winning streak would move him into the top 15 of the lightweight division, Ferreira believes, and he’s expecting “a war” inside the cage.
”I wanna brawl with him,” Ferreira said, “go there and show I deserve to be where I want to be.”