Jailton Almeida gets big win at UFC Sao Paulo
Jailton Almeida added one of the most high-profile names to his résumé at UFC Sao Paulo this past Saturday. Originally scheduled to fight Curtis Blaydes, who was forced to withdraw due to injury, the Brazilian accepted a short-notice name in Derrick Lewis. In his most recent appearance, Almeida dealt with a similar heavy-hitter in Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC Charlotte, where he grounded ‘Bigi Boy’ and earned a first-round finish.
Almeida hoped to do the same to Lewis, and he did — sort of.
Almeida discusses his strategy against Derrick Lewis
Within the first few minutes of the fight, Almeida got the Lewis down and searched for submissions. That set the tone for the rest of the rounds, as it was essentially a rinse and repeat strategy from Almeida. After the fight ended, ‘Malhadinho’ saw his hand raised after sweeping the judges’ scorecards against Lewis. Though he dominated yet another opponent, most thought Almeida could — and should — have finished the ‘Black Beast’.
To hear Almeida tell it, he definitely tried, but Lewis was tougher than he thought.
“It was a tough fight,” said Almeida through an interpreter at the UFC Sao Paulo post-fight show. “I was surprised that he never backed down. Derrick fought all the way. Although he came in the last minute, he really put on a fight. But I managed to fight a good fight. I was happy with my performance, even though I didn’t knock him out.
“I managed to control him,” continued Almeida. “I’m ready for any fights. I’m ready to fight five rounds for any kind of opponent.”
When Almeida had Lewis on the ground, he failed to do any significant damage. Instead of peppering Lewis with some punches, he smothered him. There were questions as to why that was the strategy, and the Brazilian explained that it was out of an abundance of caution.
“The strategy was to control him on grappling,” said Almeida. “But he’s very strong, and his hand is twice as big as mine. My forearm is quite thin, and he was able to grab ahold my forearm and really control the blows that I was trying to give out.”
Who should be next for Almeida?
As for what comes next for Jailton Almeida, the top ten contender wants another step up in competition. Ahead of the Derrick Lewis fight, Almeida shared with Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting that he was going to call out Ciryl Gane, the former UFC interim heavyweight champion.
He followed through on that callout, and used his moment on the microphone to give ‘Bon Gamin’ a special shoutout. If Gane has someone else in mind, though, then Almeida would serve as a backup for the upcoming interim championship fight between Tom Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295 next Saturday.
“I’m going to ask [UFC CEO] Dana [White] or [UFC Matchmaker] Mick [Maynard] to get me a pair of tickets for my wife and I so we can get to know New York. But yeah, I want to sit front row to watch that fight for the interim belt. Who knows, maybe I can be on reserve if they need me.”
Though Gane or the winner of Aspinall vs. Pavlovich are great options for Almeida, I think he should get rescheduled against Curtis Blaydes. That was the true test to gauge where he fits in at the top of the division, so I think Blaydes vs. Almeida should still happen at some point. Hopefully ‘Razor’ recovers from his injuries, and we can see them share the Octagon in 2024.
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