Elizeu Zaleski recovered fast after sustaining a knee injury in February, and now he hopes his welterweight fight on May 12 against Sean Strickland at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil brings with it some changes to his career.
Riding a four-fight UFC winning streak with three “Fight of the Night” bonuses, “Capoeira” wanted to fight in Rio de Janeiro because it’s a bigger card, on pay-per-view, and would bring him more attention from the local media.
A win at UFC 224 would be his fifth in a row in the UFC and could provide him more hype, but Zaleski says his “focus is on training and fighting.”
”I honestly never thought too much about it,” Zaleski told MMA Fighting. “Fighting is what I like to do. On the other side, I think I should have more attention, but the Brazilian media should seek that too. I think it will come with time. I’m a proven fighter and I will do best to win all the time for my family, friends and those who believe in me. I have to do my job in the Octagon.
”I think that the fact that I’m fighting in Rio might change things a little bit for me because it’s a pay-per-view card,” he added. “Everyone will be watching it. It can definitely put me in a different level.”
Zaleski has pocketed three bonuses in five UFC bouts — cashing extra paychecks for his victories over Max Griffin, Lyman Good, and Omari Akhmedov. With that money, he was able to buy his mother a house and build a better structure for himself in Curitiba, where he trains under Cristiano Marcello.
Now, at UFC 224, “Capoeira” wants another type of bonus.
”I’ll be aggressive in this fight and I believe anything can happen,” said Zaleski, who hasn’t lost since a split decision against Nicolas Dalby in his Octagon debut in 2015. “He’s good on the ground, but I expect to finish the fight there. I want to end this fight as quick as possible. I’ll do my best, and maybe I’ll get a performance bonus this time.”
Strickland, 19-2 as a mixed martial artist, has only lost to top welterweights contenders Kamaru Usman and Santiago Ponzinibbio in eight bouts inside the Octagon. He is coming off a win over Court McGee, and Zaleski can’t see how this match-up doesn’t deliver.
”He’s young, is doing well in the UFC. It’s a great fight,” Zaleski said, “He had two losses in the UFC, but lost to tough guys. I wanted to fight good opponents, and it’s a great match-up. It will definitely be a great fight.”