Better late than never.
Adriano Martins needed 30 MMA fights to finally earn a chance in the UFC, and he wants to make the best of it on Nov. 9 in Goiania, Brazil.
A former Jungle Fight lightweight champion, Martins (24-6), signed a contract with the UFC after a unanimous decision victory over Jorge Gurgel at Strikeforce’s final show, but it took him months to make the transition to the Octagon after that win.
"I’ve worked years for this opportunity," Martins told MMAFighting.com. "I hurt my knee 10 days before my fight with Jorge Gurgel, but I didn’t know how bad it was. After the fight I returned to Manaus and went to the doctor, and he said I’d need to have surgery. It was tough, but I’m perfect now."
The winner of Martins vs. Gurgel would sign with the UFC, and the loser wouldn’t have an opportunity inside the Octagon.
"Things were never easy to me," he said. "I heard a lot of people say that I deserved to be in the UFC a long time ago, but my time is now. I’m more mature and focused now, doing everything I have to do. It’s my time now"
"I was confident and I knew what could happen if I win or if I lose. I knew I could sign with the UFC if I win that fight but I didn’t let that pressure over me. Right after the fight, Sean Shelby met me backstage and said ‘congratulations, and welcome to the UFC.’ I was really happy."
"I’m going for the knockout," he said. "I want to win, and I want to finish him."
Cruickshank, a TUF 15 alum, has a 3-1 record in the UFC, but experience is not a problem for the Brazilian veteran.
"I’ve seen some of his fights and he’s tough, but I have fought opponents that are tougher, bigger and with heavier hands in Brazil before," he said. "I respect him, but I will show what I can do in this fight. He will have his hands full.
"I’ve worked hard, now it’s the time to let my hands do the talk. I will show why I deserve to be in the UFC. My opponent is a well-rounded fighter, has four fights in the UFC, but I don’t care. It’s going to be a good test for me in my UFC debut, and I will show why I deserve to be here."