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Thiago Tavares hid knee surgery from UFC before featherweight debut

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Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Thiago Tavares defeated Robbie Peralta in dominant fashion at UFC Fight Night 47 in Bangor, Maine, with a first-round submission victory. His quick win is about to become even more impressive since the Brazilian underwent a surgery two months before the bout.

Tavares, who was forced out of UFC bouts with Zubaira Tukhugov and Tom Niinimaki due to multiple injuries earlier this year, underwent a right knee surgery on June 16 due to a torn meniscus. He decided to hide the injury and the surgery from his manager and the UFC.

"I didn't want to stay out too long again," Tavares told MMAFighting.com.

He got a call from Joe Silva eight days after the surgery, though. Tavares vs. Peralta on Aug. 16. The Brazilian said yes.

The knee surgery was kept a secret, and his coaches were the only ones who knew about it. When he stepped inside the cage to battle Peralta, he proved all the secrets were worthy as he finished the dangerous featherweight with a rear-naked choke with 33 seconds left in the opening round.

"It was great. Everything went as planned," he said. "I knew that my jiu-jitsu would prevail if I could take the fight to the ground. Robbie Peralta has heavy hands and knockout power, I couldn’t stand and trade with him. When I go to a fight I just want to win and I’m willing to do anything to make it happen. I don’t care how I win."

Tavares’ win over Peralta was identical to his last lightweight bout, when he tapped Justin Salas in November in Goiania, Brazil.

"Yeah, it was pretty similar," he agreed. "My best weapons are judo and jiu-jitsu, so when I take the fight to the ground I can do my thing."

The Brazilian featherweight, who improved to 9-5-1 under the UFC banner, will take a time off from fighting to focus on his political plans. Tavares is running for a seat at the Legislative Assembly of the State of Santa Catarina, and he wants to use the sports as a weapon to help the society.

"I will focus on the elections for the next couple months," he said. "I believe that education and culture need to be represented at the Legislative Assembly in our State of Santa Catarina. I believe that the sport can be used as a form of education and social inclusion. If they elect me, I will be able to change the life of a lot of kids and teenagers, giving them a dream, a goal, a history to be written. That’s what I believe."

"After the elections, I will focus on my next fight, probably around December," he continued. "I will keep pursuing my dreams and goals. I never chose easy opponents and I won’t do it now. I will be ready to fight whoever the UFC wants and I will do my best to get another win for Florianopolis."