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Igor Araujo fueled by wife’s battle against cancer for UFC Fight Night 37 bout

Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

Igor Araujo had many reasons to celebrate going into UFC Fight Night 37.

The 33-year-old fighter thought he would never had the chance to fight in the UFC after dropping a decision against Colton Smith at The Ultimate Fighter season 16. One win later, he was back.

Araujo took a chance on short notice against Ildemar Alcantara in Brazil, and got his hand raised after three rounds. The fight didn’t play out as he was expecting, but was good enough for him.

"I wanted to strike against ‘Marajo’, but I broke my right foot and fractured my left foot before the fight," Araujo told "I couldn’t walk 10 days before the fight. My coach told me to pull out of the fight, but I couldn’t do that."

Right after he left the cage with the win, Araujo learned that his wife, Mariana, had surgery for cancer. She’s finally healed, and Araujo will have her in the attendance when he steps into the Octagon on Saturday to take on Danny Mitchell at UFC Fight Night 37 in London, England.

"I’m a family guy, so it will be great to have my wife there with me," he said. "Last time I fought she had half of her thyroid removed because of the cancer, and she removed the rest after my last fight. She’s healed. I’ll fight even better with her and my kids with me there.

"And I’ll also have 100 students there in the arena to watch me fight, so I’ll have a lot of people there cheering for me. I’m going to a war."

With more time to prepare and no injuries, Araujo is more than confident against Mitchell, who earns his first shot inside the Octagon after back-to-back submission wins in Europe.

"I started my camp in Geneva, where I live, and finished it in Albuquerque," Araujo said. "It was a great training camp. For my UFC debut I had only four weeks to train, so I’m better prepared to fight this time.

"I knew (Mitchell) before, we almost fought once but it never happened," he continued. "I watched his fights at that time. He’s a good fighter. He doesn’t have a knockout power, but has a good striking game. He has a lot of submission wins in his record. He’s a good fighter, and that’s why I trained hard to beat him. I will be ready for everything."

Fighting for the 32nd time and with 13 wins over the last 14 bouts, the Brazilian welterweight explains how his pre-fight routine prevents the action to be stopped prematurely.

"I always talk with the referee before the fight," he said. "I don’t care about getting punched in the face. I always tell the referee that I’m here to win or die, so don’t stop the fight if the he’s punching me in the face three or four times. I can handle it. I want the win no matter what. I have 31 fights and I train with heavier guys, so I can handle this."