Ronny Markes’ starts a new chapter in his career on Saturday, and it has changed quite a bit over the past few months.
The Nova Uniao fighter, who signed a deal with World Series of Fighting two months after being released from the UFC, expected to make his promotional debut against fellow UFC veteran Matt Hamill, but "The Hammer" announced his retirement prior to the bout.
"They changed my opponent four times, but I’m really well-trained for this opportunity," Markes told MMAFighting.com about his upcoming bout with Cully Butterfield. "I only had two weeks to take a look at this opponent and I couldn’t find much about him on the internet, only a couple fights, but I’m trained for any type of fight he brings."
Butterfield (13-3) has won 10 of his past 11 bouts, including seven finishes, and Markes (14-3) feels ready to get the win wherever the fight goes on Aug. 9 in Las Vegas.
"He’s a striker, but the videos I found of his fights he was working on the ground more," he said. "I don’t think he would dare fight me on the ground, though. It’s not a good strategy for him. But if does try, I will submit him."
Markes enters a cage for the first time after a disappointing run in the UFC. He had a promising start with three straight wins, but a pair of TKO losses in his final UFC bouts, even failing to make weight for the last middleweight fight, ended his career inside the Octagon.
"Everything that happened was God’s decision," he said. "I was coming off good wins, I was considered a good prospect in the division, but God didn’t want this, and now He gave me a new opportunity in a big promotion in the United States. I will do a great fight this time."
The Brazilian native returns to the light heavyweight division for his first post-UFC fight, and admits he didn’t handle his career in a professional way when fighting for Zuffa.
"The UFC made the right call by releasing me. I wasn’t professional," he said. "When you sign with a promotion, you have to do what you have committed to. If I sign to fight at 185 pounds, I should have been more professional when I was off camp. I gained too much weight, and it was hard to cut it down. It’s hard to cut from 237 pounds to 185, my body suffered a lot. I wasn’t professional, but I will do better at 205. I will be stronger and in shape, and my body won’t suffer that much.
"I’ve learned a lot with everything that happened, and I’m more mature now," he added. "I’ll be more professional now, control my weight. If I can keep my weight around 215, maybe I will return to 185 one day. If WSOF wants that way, I’ll see if I can do it in the future."
Markes vs. Butterfield co-headlines the WSOF 12 at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and airs live on NBC Sports. The main event features a lightweight bout between Lewis Gonzalez and Luis Palomino.