Leandro Issa vs. Russel Doane kicks off the year for the UFC in Singapore, and the Brazilian wants to do it in beautiful fashion.
Issa was scheduled to meet Koetsu Okazaki at One FC on Dec. 6, but decided to leave the card – and the promotion – when offered a contract with the UFC. A former bantamweight title challenger at One FC, "Brodinho" takes on Doane in the opening bout of UFC Fight Night 34 card in Jan. 4.
"One FC is growing a lot in Asia, but the UFC is the biggest organization in the world," Issa told MMAFighting.com. "It’s a dream for me to fight there since I was a kid, so I couldn’t resist when they offered me this opportunity. Opportunities like this don’t happen all the time in our lives.
"I was scheduled to fight on December at One FC, so I just extended my camp for another month. I was waiting for this opportunity for a long time. I always trained hard to make sure that I would be ready for it when the time comes."
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and based in Singapore, Issa won’t need to travel for his UFC debut, and counts on the support of the Asian fans against the fellow UFC newcomer.
"I fought a lot in Asia, and I live here in Singapore, so I expect to have the support of the fans in the fight," he said. "UFC is well known in Asia already, and it’s growing a lot. We already can watch the events on television, and that makes the casual fan understand more about the sport."
Seven of Issa’s 11 professional wins have come via submission, while most of Doane wins were by knockout. Issa’s strategy is no secret.
"Russel Doane is a well-rounded and aggressive fighter," he said. "He’s also making his UFC debut, and I’m sure we both will try our best to prove we deserve the chance. He likes to keep it standing and I prefer to fight on the ground, but I’m working a lot my striking game here at Evolve MMA in Singapore to surprise him."