SAO PAULO -- Since making his MMA debut 346 days ago, Antonio Carlos Jr. can become the next Ultimate Fighter.
With a perfect record of three fights and three first-round submission victories, "Cara de Sapato" entered TUF: Brazil 3 and scored a pair of quick finishes to advance to the final. The jiu-jitsu world champion takes on Vitor Miranda on Saturday night in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and plans to test his hands against the MMA veteran.
"I know he’s a striker, but I believe I can fight him standing," Carlos Jr. told MMAFighting.com. "My hands are really good. I’ve evolved a lot as a fighter. I want to stand and bang. He’s an excellent striker, but I want to test myself. The fight might go to the ground, but my idea is to fight him standing."
"Cara de Sapato" defeated multiple champions like Romulo Barral, Bernardo Faria and Leandro Lo in jiu-jitsu competition before making a transition to MMA in 2013. He didn’t face tough competition in his first professional MMA fights, but proved his talent with wins over Edgard Castaldelli and Strikeforce veteran Marcos Rogerio on the reality show.
"I never thought I was the favorite to win the show," he said. "I didn’t have much experience in MMA like most of the fighters in there, but my experience in jiu-jitsu helped me a lot, and the fact that I train with ‘Cigano’ gave me confidence."
Aside of his grappling credentials, Carlos Jr. showed some knockout power during the reality show. According to the 24-year-old prospect, you can credit boxing coach Luiz Carlos Dorea and former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos for his boxing skills.
"I spent a lot of time training with Dorea," he said. "As soon as I decided to train MMA. I went to Salvador, Bahia. I did my first MMA fight less than a year ago, but ever since I decided to compete in MMA, Dorea helped me a lot.
"He saw a talent in me and dedicated a lot to help me evolve as a fighter. Training with the guys I’ve trained with, ‘Cigano’ and a lot of boxing champions, I became more confident in my hands."
"Cara de Sapato" trained with dos Santos in Salvador for his first MMA bout, and followed him to Nova Uniao for his next camp.
"I did my camp at Nova Uniao with Andre Pederneiras and Dorea," he said. "I trained with a lot of great fighters like Thales Leites, Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, Francimar Barroso, Ronny Markes and ‘Cigano’. The experience I had at Nova Uniao helped me a lot."