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UFC’s Braga Neto missed a flight, but won big in a poker tournament

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When life gives you lemons…

Antonio Braga Neto was planning a trip to Florianopolis, Brazil, to teach a few jiu-jitsu classes and make some money before his UFC Lincoln fight with Andrew Sanchez on Aug. 25. A couple of stupid mistakes later and he missed a flight, and then missed another flight the following day, losing $250 he had paid for the flight tickets.

Pissed off with himself, Neto decided to change plans and drive all the way down from Rio de Janeiro to Florianopolis for a 700-mile road trip. After several hours of driving on the first day, the UFC fighter stopped in Sao Paulo to get some sleep, and found out that a poker company was promoting “Big Chance”, a poker tournament that would pay almost $80,000 in prizes.

Players had until 9:30pm to sign up for the tournament. Neto arrived in Sao Paulo at 9pm. It’s destiny, he jokes.

The jiu-jitsu expert was one of the 1,586 players paying $80 to play in the tournament, and he made it to the next stage. He kept winning and advancing, until he was in the final table with eight other players.

“It was cool because of the money I made, the result, but I wanted more, man,” Neto told MMA Fighting after finishing fifth and pocketing $4,000. “I had played this tournament before, finishing second and fifth. It’s a good profit.”

Neto wants to create his own online store to sell fight gear, so he will invest some of this money in the project. “I’ll invest 20 or 30 percent in poker as well,” he says with a laugh.

Making good money in a poker tournament ahead of a UFC fight brings good vibes, Neto says, but he has another tournament to enter before facing Sanchez: Neto signed up to compete at the BJJ Pro IBJJF Championship this weekend in Sao Paulo, but ended up losing his first match by points.

If the multiple-time jiu-jitsu world champion was successful on the mat and won the gold medal, he would only have pocketed a third of what he made days before in a poker table.

“I fight for love, for glory,” Neto said. “I know my story and I know where I am and where I want to get. I’m trying to do my best and make it up for the time I lost, making things right to win.”

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