Johnny Eduardo pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history at UFC Fight Night 40, and people saying he had no chance at all helped him getting the TKO victory.
Nearly two years after his last fight in the Octagon, Eduardo returned to action against top ranked Eddie Wineland in Cincinnati, Ohio, and needed only one round to score the biggest win of his MMA career with a first-round finish.
"It was really cool because I was seen as the underdog, some people thought I had no chance at all," Eduardo told MMAFighting.com. "I was judged in a negative way, I heard that I wouldn’t be able to survive in the first round, that Wineland was far superior to me and that he would knock me out. I took all the pressure and used it in a positive way.
"I have to thank everybody that believed in me, but also the ones that rooted against me. It helped me work something I had forgotten in a while, my aggressive style and the hunger to finish."
Eduardo says that Wineland, a former WEC bantamweight champion, also gave him extra motivation to win.
"Wineland teased me, he talked a lot of crap about me in interviews," he said. "When I got there, there were pictures and posters of him everywhere, everything was in his favor and that pissed me off. Wait a second, am I here to lose? I used that in my favor and it worked."
The Nova Uniao fighter was so happy with the win that he threw his mouthpiece into the stands, but that earned him a 30-days suspension, courtesy of the Ohio Athletic Commission.
"I apologize for what happened, but my happiness was way bigger than any intention of causing any harm to someone in the audience with my mouthpiece," he said. "I threw it in the stands because what I really wanted was to get out of there and run back to Brazil to celebrate with my family, friends and the Brazilian fans."
Eduardo upset Wineland with a beautiful right hand, something he wasn’t really known of using in his previous fights.
"My trainer Ricardinho Metralhadora worked my hands for this fight," he said. "He gave me more speed and punching power. Ricardinho helped me with my boxing, something I never really used in my fights. I’m a muay thai guy, but now I use more weapons."
Wineland was wobbled before the final punch, but Eduardo wasn’t quite sure if he was really hurt of just pretending to be.
"I thought he was faking it because he was doing faces during the fight, teasing me," he said. "He made me become more aggressive in the fight with that stuff."
The big loss dropped Wineland to No. 5 in the UFC rankings, and Eduardo moved into the 12th position. The Nova Uniao bantamweight, who told Jon Anik after the fight that he wanted Wineland’s spot in the rankings, doesn’t care about it after all.
"I won’t think that I’m great, that I’m the best now," he said. "I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning of the fight and I need to work on that. I want to grow in the UFC.
"I have to recognize that he has a bigger name. It would be unfair to say he’s not good because he lost to me that way. I don’t think I should be at the top 5 and be fighting for the title now. I want to grow step by step, after every fight, and I want the world to know me."
Eduardo will likely face a big name next after his second win in a row in the UFC, but he won’t call people out.
"I don’t have a name in mind right now," he said. "I’m an employee of the biggest company in the world and I will fight whoever they choose, and I will train hard to win and be among the best. I won’t call this guy or that guy out, but it’s going to be a war every time I fight."
Eduardo doesn’t care about rankings to next opponents, but one thing he cares about is money. He earned the Performance of the Night bonus at UFN 40, and hopes that the huge win brings him more sponsors.
"Fighting against Wineland was a great experience for me," he said. "I haven’t fought for a long time, had no sponsors, and it gave me strength to keep going and working to be better and stay in the UFC. My life was never easy, so I used this to become a better man."
"I was sponsored by Pretorian when I signed with the UFC, but I don’t know what happened and they stopped sponsoring a lot of fighters," he continued. "For this fight, I had the support of an amazing person, Elisa, of Laboratorio Clinicas e Analises. She’s a student of my muay thai student in Mato Grosso. She heard about my story and decided to help me. It wasn’t much, but her support helped me a lot.
"It was complicated. I had bills to pay and I needed money for supplements, food and everything. My wife helped me a lot. We only had the money she made with her job, and she took it out of her pocket to pay the bills and invest in me."
According to the Ohio commission, Eduardo pocketed $16,000 for his win over Wineland, and earning extra $50,000 with the post-fight bonus was big news.
"It’s still complicated. I didn’t win the lottery," Eduardo said. "I want to open doors for me so I can continue working and doing what I love."