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Felipe Arantes avoids knee surgery, eyes top 15 opponent next in the UFC

Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Felipe Arantes suffered a knee injury, but that won’t keep him out of the Octagon for too long. The Brazilian featherweight, who scored a dominant victory over Maximo Blanco at UFC Fight Night 36 in February, expects to make his seventh UFC bout in July.

"I had a knee injury, but it won’t require surgery," Arantes told "I used this time off to fix some old injuries, but I want to fight again this year. I want to fight in July. I can’t stay inactive for too long."

For the first time, it looks like he won’t fight at a UFC card in Brazil.

"I’ve been told that my next fight won’t be in Brazil," he said. "They called me to fight at UFC on FOX 12, but I had the knee injury so I asked them to wait."

Arantes’ six UFC bouts took place in Brazil, but fighting in enemy territory is not an issue.

"When the Octagon is locked, it’s just my opponent and I," he said. "He can have one hundred thousand fans screaming his name, but no one is going to help him."

"Sertanejo", who signed with the UFC in 2011 after a nine-fight unbeaten streak, holds a 3-2-1 record inside the Octagon. At 26, the Chute Boxe fighter feels it’s time to move up the ladder and face better competition.

"There are no easy fights in the UFC," he said. "I think they are going to give me someone from the top 15. I’ll take anything they want. I want to be at the top. I want to beat anyone they put in front of me to get there."

Fighting someone from the top 15 may be a huge jump for Arantes, who hasn’t scored consecutive wins under the UFC banner yet. He’s confident he can beat the best, and he blames his losses on weight issues.

"I changed my diet and I feel that I’m moving in the right direction now," he said. "I recovered well after the weigh-ins for some fights, but I didn’t for others. Sometimes I was overweight and fought at 170, but it can’t happen. I don’t want to be big on fight night, I want to be strong. I felt stronger in other fights even when I was smaller than my opponents."

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