SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Antonio Carlos Junior became the Ultimate Fighter champoin eleven months after his MMA debut, but that’s just the beginning.
"Cara de Sapato," A world-class jiu-jitsu champion, wanted to prove a point and stand against muay thai expert Vitor Miranda at The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 Finale in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Saturday night, and he impressed in his UFC debut.
"I was feeling really comfortable to stand against him," "Cara de Sapato" said at the post-fight press conference at the Ibirapuera gymnasium. "I know I don’t train for a long time, but I dedicate a lot in everything I do. I’m a jiu-jitsu guy, but I knew I had to work on my striking game. I had some excellent people to help me with that, like ‘Cigano’. I also have great coaches, so I couldn’t be better."
After winning the season as a heavyweight, "Cara de Sapato" will cut down to 185 pounds.
"I will stay focused," he said. "I had several other opportunities in my life but I chose to fight because I love MMA. I will stay focused and keep looking for better things. I have great people around me, so I’m good."
After scoring first-round finishes in all of his MMA bouts, including the ones during the reality show, "Cara de Sapato" wanted to go the distance.
"I was really glad that I was able to do those fights, and I really needed to fight three rounds," he said. "All my fights ended in the first round and many people doubted I could go three rounds. I was very important for me. I learned a lot with this fight."
"Cara de Sapato" and Miranda had a good relationship during the reality show, but Miranda declined to touch gloves twice during the TUF final -- even throwing a kick when his opponent offered to touch gloves at the third round.
"I think he tried to get into my head, but I know to deal with it," "Cara de Sapato" said. "I was okay. I admire him a lot. He apologized after the fight, so we’re cool."