Adriano Martins returns to the Octagon riding his first winning streak since joining the UFC, and changed a lot of things ahead of a lightweight clash with Islam Makhachev at UFC 192 in Houston.
The Brazilian veteran, won has only one loss -- to lightweight contender Donald Cerrone -- in the last nine bouts, has decided to leave Manaus, Brazil, to train full time at American Top Team in Florida. Surrounded by some of the best fighters in the world, Martins hopes to show his evolution on Saturday night.
"I moved to the United States with my family four months ago to train at American Top Team and evolve as a fighter and move up the UFC rankings," Martins told MMAFighting.com. "A fighter has to seek for more knowledge. You can’t think you’re at a good level and be satisfied with it. I moved to Florida to train with this mentality, and I’m happy that I did. I’m learning a lot, and I’m ready for another war."
Moving up the rankings at 155 pounds is not an easy task, as the lightweight division is one of the most crowded in the UFC today. Martins knows that, but focuses on becoming a top 10 in the near future.
"The lightweight division is full of talents, there’s always someone new coming up, new prospects, and I want to be among them," he said. "Winning is the most important right now, the rest is just consequence. I will put on a great fight to get to the top 10 of the division. That’s what I’m working for.
"I want to stay active. I had many injuries, fought in February and will only return in October, so I decided to train smarter and take care of my body so I can fight more often and get to the top 10 faster. That’s my goal."
Coming off a first-round knockout over Juan Manuel Puig and a decision win against Rustam Khabilov, the Brazilian sees similarities between Khabilov and Makhachev.
"These Russians are pretty similar," Martins said. "Based on his previous fights, he likes to grapple, likes to take you down and work on top. He’s similar to Rustam (Khabilov), so I’m going into this fighting thinking like that as I plan more surprises. Nobody expected me to go for takedowns in my last fight, and I’m ready in all areas for this one. I’m confident and focused."
Makhachev is 12-0 as a professional fighter with six submission victories. Even though Martins praises the Dagestani’s grappling skills, he’s not afraid to go to the ground at UFC 192.
"He’s not a jiu-jitsu expert like those in Brazil, but he’s dangerous," Martins said. "He does the basic pretty well. I will be careful with that, but I’m used to competing with high-level grapplers in jiu-jitsu for years, grappling with tough black belts, so it won’t be something new to me. But I have to be careful because one mistake can cost you the fight in the UFC.
"It’s going to be a great fight," he continued. "He’s undefeated, is coming off a great win in his UFC debut, and wants to show his work inside the Octagon, and I’m ready for this. I want to put on a show at UFC 192."
Winner of three of four UFC fights after beating Jorge Gurgel in his first and only Strikeforce bout, Martins plans on stopping Makhachev before the third round in Houston.
"I envision an exciting fight, and I believe I have more weapons to win," said the Brazilian. "I finished my first UFC fight by submission, and my second win was by knockout, and the last one via decision. I want another finish. I don’t know how the fight will end, but I believe it’s going to be an exciting one. I want to be among the best, and I want to prove that to the fans and the promoters."