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Diego Ferreira asked for advance payment for UFC St. Louis: ‘I was behind three months in the gym’


Diego Ferreira has many reasons to perform at his best against rising prospect Mateusz Rebecki at UFC St. Louis on Saturday night.

Ferreira and his wife welcomed their first daughter to the world four months after his knockout victory over veteran Michael Johnson in May 2023, which snapped an uncomfortable three-fight skid and gave him new purpose. Ferreira, a father of four boys too, sees his career with new eyes now.

“That’s the reason I’m coming back,” Ferreira told MMA Fighting. “That has motivated me even more. As a family man, I have to provide to my family. This sport gives my family a future. I love to compete, but this is a brutal sport. You have to be wise and know when to get in and get out, and I know that moment is coming for me as well. I’ve been in the UFC for 10 years already. That moment is coming. I don’t want to see it, but I know it’s there. I love my kids and my family and that’s the reason I fight. I have to give my 100 percent inside the octagon for my four boys and my girl.”

Out for nearly a full year after beating Johnson and cashing a Performance of the Night bonus, Ferreira said he asked UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby for a portion of his purse in advance to pay bills.

He aims to impress enough in St. Louis to pocket another extra $50,000 check.

“I’ve fought the toughest guys in the division and never turned down a fight,” Ferreira said. “I was going to fight Clay Guida on June 1 [at UFC 302], but Guida got hurt and I didn’t want to waste more time. I was focused on fighting and needed the money. I was behind three months in the gym, I had a newborn, so I had that pressure. I wouldn’t miss the opportunity.”

Rebecki is 3-0 thus far in the UFC with back-to-back finishes of Loik Radzhabov and Roosevelt Roberts in 2023, but Ferreira has beaten the likes of Anthony Pettis, Mairbek Taisumov, Rustam Khabilov, and Olivier Aubin-Mercier throughout his 9-5 UFC career.

“He’s a tough guy,” Ferreira said of Rebecki. “I remember getting in the UFC at 10-0 and I’ve learned a lot so far. I didn’t have the mindset I have today. This fight is perfect for me to show I’m still here. I want to fight for the belt one day. This guy has 19 wins but hasn’t fought anyone with a name yet. It’s going to be a first for him, the first experienced opponent he faces. That’s the difference between him and I. I’m not taking anything away from him, but that’s how I see this. No joke, I’m scared of myself for how good I’m feeling right now.”

Rebecki was stopped by Pawel Kielek a decade ago in his first and thus far only MMA loss.

A decorated jiu-jitsu black belt, Ferreira sees openings on his ground to explore Saturday.

“I want a submission,” Ferreira said, “especially because I got the knockout last time out, but it’s never 100 percent in the fight business. But I will come out victorious with a submission in the second round. I think I’ll put on a good pace on him and bring the victory in the second round. If not a submission, I’ll knock him out.”



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