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Ronny Markes trained with Junior dos Santos for UFC Fight Night 38

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Wander Roberto, Inovafoto

Junior dos Santos has moved from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro to seek better training at Nova Uniao camp, and he’s not the only one to benefit from the change.

Ronny Markes, who returns to the Octagon in Natal, Brazil, on March 23, against Thiago Santos, trained with "Cigano" at Nova Uniao in his camp for UFC Fight Night 38. He's focused to get back to the win column after a loss to Yoel Romero.

"‘Cigano’ is really strong and he moves fast like a lighter guy, so that was important for me," Markes said. "I also had the help of guys like (Francimar Barroso) ‘Bodao’, who has a strong clinch game. I won’t feel ‘Marreta’s’ strength because I’m training with stronger guys."

Markes was 3-0 in the UFC before a third-round knockout loss to Romero at UFC Fight for the Troops 3 in November, and "Marreta" will have a second chance inside the Octagon after coming up short against Cezar Ferreira at UFC 163 in his promotional debut.

"He has good movement and a good striking game," Markes said of Santos. "There’s no easy fight in the UFC, but I’m only worried about what I’m doing in the fight. I had a great training camp, so I’m ready. It’s time to do the homework and go fight."

A Kimura Nova Uniao fighter, the Natal native Markes will likely have the crowd favorite at UFN 38, and he says he brings more motivation coming into his fifth UFC fight.

"My wife (Priscila Markes) will be eight months’ pregnant on March 23, and it’s also our wedding anniversary," he said. "And I recently lost my friend Luiz de Franca, who was a victim of a cruel murder in Natal, and I’ll also dedicate this win to him. Everything will mean extra motivation for me in this fight.

"Nothing is going to be like fighting for the UFC in Natal," he continued. "It’s going to be a unique feeling in my career. I can’t wait to get in that Octagon. When I heard the UFC would come to Brazil in 2011, I talked to (Renan) Barao and (Jussier) Formiga how cool would be if we had the opportunity to fight near our homes, and this dream is coming true now."