Iuri Alcantara is one of the most experienced fighters in the UFC bantamweight division, but still learned a new lesson in his last fight.
“Marajo” faced Octagon newcomer Brian Kelleher at UFC 212 in June, which marked his 44th professional MMA fight, and lost via submission in less than two minutes.
The original plan was to have Alcantara rematching Felipe Arantes in Rio de Janeiro, but for some reason the match-up never came to fruition. Kelleher stepped up with less than three weeks’ notice to face “Marajo”, and the Brazilian expected an easy win.
“It’s still stuck in my throat,” Alcantara told MMA Fighting. “Every time I watch that fight, man, it’s a sh*tty situation. I hate getting submitted. Even in training, I go back home pissed, upset with myself. But that’s it. I worked hard to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“We must never underestimate our opponent,” he continued. “No matter who’s on the other side of the Octagon, I’m sure he trained hard to win because he has his dreams, he’s fighting in the UFC. I underestimated him a little bit and paid for it.”
Alcantara didn’t have time to go to Albuquerque to train for UFC 212, and believes that it affected his preparation. “It’s not an excuse, it’s his merits, I made a mistake and he submitted me,” says “Marajo”, who “went out of my comfort one this time to have a good preparation.”
The Brazilian veteran is slated to return to the Octagon against TUF Latin America bantamweight winner Alejandro Perez at Saturday’s UFC Fresno, and says he has watched “El Diablito” compete for years.
“I know who he is, he fought in Jungle Fight once (in 2013). I’ve been following him for a long time,” Alcantara said. “He likes to counter, he’s tough, and is undefeated in his last four fights in the UFC, so it’s going to be a good fight. I’m confident that I will get the win for Brazil.”
“I expect to put on a show,” he continued. “I won’t say that I will win by knockout or submission, but I guarantee a show, a good fight for the fans. I will do my best on Dec. 9 and compensate for the loss in Rio.”
Used to a busy schedule in his pre-UFC days, Alcantara plans on bringing that back as he campaigns for a spot at UFC’s first fight card in Belem, Brazil, on Feb. 3. Born and raised at the Marajo island in Para, two hours away from Belem, Alcantara gets excited with the idea of fighting in his home state for the first time since 2010.
“I plan on putting on a good fight and then fight on this card in my backyard,” said Alcantara, whose nickname “Marajo” is a tribute to his native island. “Fighting in Para is completely different. The whole world will see the energy for the paraense people. I have everything scheduled already. I’m focused on this fight, and then I will definitely ask to fight in Belem, and I’m sure the UFC will give me that.
“It’s such a great energy, being close to my kids and my entire family, my team. It will be great to represent Brazil in my home. That’s priceless, that’s everything to me.”