Thomas Almeida wants to be in the UFC, and winning the Legacy Fighting Championship bantamweight title could be the best ticket to enter the Octagon.
Unbeaten in 16 professional fights with 12 knockouts and four submission victories, Almeida takes on Caio Machado (4-0) for the vacant 135-pound championship at Legacy FC 32 main event in Shreveport, La., on June 20, and he wants to score another impressive finish.
"I want a huge knockout, that kind of knockout that puts him to sleep," Almeida told MMAFighting.com. "A high kick, a head kick, would be perfect."
"Caio is taller than me, and has a bigger reach," he continued. "He has a good ground and good takedowns, but his main weapon is the knees on the clinch. I trained a lot for it and I will do my game."
Machado wasn’t Almeida’s original opponent for Legacy FC 32. Originally scheduled to take on Aaron Phillips to determine the No. 1 contender, "Thominhas" was moved to a title fight when 135-pound champion Matt Hobar signed with the UFC, and Machado eventually replaced an injured Phillips.
"I wouldn’t say it’s a tougher fight, but my other opponent was left-handed and I hate left-handed," Almeida said with a laugh. "The fact that (Machado) is right-handed definitely makes it a little easier, but it’s not an easy fight at all. A fight is a fight and anyone can win."
A win on Friday night boosts Almeida’s record to 17-0, and he’s confident that his next bout will take place inside an Octagon.
"I asked for this opportunity a long time ago and I believe this championship will open many doors for me, especially in the UFC," he said. "There’s nowhere to run, I have to go to the UFC.
"I wish I was (in the UFC) already. But if I’m not there yet, that’s because it was not meant to be. Maybe I’m not mature enough. One mistake can get you out of there, so I want to build experience to get there when I’m ready to beat everybody."