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HomeSportsCesar Almeida credits win over Alex Pereira for DWCS shot, celebrates ‘kickboxing...

Cesar Almeida credits win over Alex Pereira for DWCS shot, celebrates ‘kickboxing wave’ in UFC

Cesar Almeida wants to be the next striker to join what he calls “the kickboxing wave” in the UFC.

Despite being 35 years old and only holding a 3-0 record in MMA, “Cesinha” was offered a shot at the UFC’s Contender Series against middleweight Lucas Fernando on Aug. 8. The show usually features young up-and-coming prospects, but the fact that Almeida has a kickboxing win over former GLORY and UFC champion Alex Pereira helped his case.

Almeida fought Pereira three times in a span of 27 months in his native Sao Paulo, Brazil. “Cesinha” lost the first match via decision in March 2013, then got his revenge nine months later in the final of a WGP one-night, four-man tournament. The final match of the trilogy took place place in July 2015, which saw “Poatan” get the judges’ nod.

Pereira’s career skyrocketed after that with his wins over Israel Adesanya in kickboxing and championships runs in GLORY and the UFC. Almeida also made his MMA debut shortly after the Pereira trilogy in 2016, but then returned to MMA in 2021 with back-to-back first-round knockouts to earn a shot at the Contender Series.

“It helped, no doubt,” Almeida told MMA Fighting of his history with Pereira, “but I think it’s more about the kickboxing wave in the UFC. There are five or six kickboxers coming on the Contender (Series) now. The kickboxing win over Alex helped me a lot, but the UFC is also looking for kickboxers because that’s what sells.”

“People love knockouts here,” he added. “The age and all, being a guy that has a win over Alex helped when they decided to give me this opportunity.”

Almeida is set to fight Lucas Fernando on Tuesday night, a former teammate who also comes from a striking background. Almeida is confident, and said his previous training sessions with Fernando have no meaning since they happened “many years ago.”

“I believe he will try to keep the distance because he’s taller than me,” Almeida said. “I think he’ll try to control the fight on the feet because he comes from Pedro Rizzo’s team. I’ve trained there and they are all strikers. They will try to go for the knockout at all times.”

“We trained together, but it’s work, right?” he continued. “I spoke with Pedro but there’s nothing we can do. That’s the opportunity we get, they booked us against each other and there’s nowhere to run now. You either take it or leave it, so we’ll have to fight each other — and I’m ready for this.”

A UFC contract is on the line Tuesday night, and “Cesinha” is already dreaming of a “perfect” octagon debut as the company prepares for its return to Sao Paulo on Nov. 4.

“I’m (visualizing) that,” Almeida said, “and God wiling I’ll put on a great performance, come out victorious with a knockout, and then make my debut at UFC Sao Paulo. That’s the ideal scenario. That’s more than ideal, even. I would be very happy.”

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