Alexandre Almeida was selected to be on the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil earlier this year, but was kicked out of the show after his medical report indicated a brain aneurysm. Nine months later, "Capitao" is fighting for the WSOF featherweight championship.
A former Jungle Fight 145-pound champion, Almeida received a call from the UFC a couple days before flying to Las Vegas, informing that the Nevada Athletic Commission advised them to remove him from the show.
Almeida thought it was it. The 16-5 featherweight feared he would never be cleared to compete again. When he was about to quit, he decided to do more tests.
New tests proved "Capitao" never had a brain aneurysm, and he was cleared to go. World Series of Fighting offered him a contract, and he tapped Saul Almeida in his debut to earn a shot at lightweight champion Lance Palmer.
"That was really important for me because I thought my career was over, and I came back with a quick win over a dangerous opponent," said Almeida, who faces Palmer at Friday’s WSOF 26 in Las Vegas. "I thought ‘that’s it, I’m done’. I was devastated when I got that call. I managed to reverse the situation and prove that I’m healthy. Now, it’s time to win my first world title at WSOF.
"I did other tests and everything was fine," he continued. "I still don’t know what went wrong in the first exam. I didn’t go back to Rio to ask the clinic, I just did other tests that showed I was healthy. I’m fine. I fought again, won, and I’m 100 percent cleared to do what I love.
One fight away from adding another belt to his record, Almeida avoids wondering what could have been of his career if he had entered the reality show.
"I don’t think too much about it. I live my life every day," he said. "It would have been good, of course, but I’m happy to be where I am today. God knows what’s best. I have to worry about what I have in front of me instead of thinking if it would have been better or worse there. I’m fine now, fighting for a world title. That’s what matters to me. I can’t imagine the future, I can just live the present."
Holding a four-fight winning streak, the Brazilian plans on stopping Palmer in Las Vegas to claim the title.
"I usually win quickly," he said. "If you look at my record, it’s always a first-round finish. I only went to the third round six times in 22 fights. I always fight to win as fast as possible."
Palmer enters the bout coming off three straight submissions, but Almeida, who tapped his opponent in eight of his past nine victories, isn’t impressed.
"I believe I have the advantage standing and on the ground," "Capitao" said. "I don’t care if my opponent is good on the ground. I’ll do my game, and he will have to defend himself. We’ll see if he’s that good on the ground. I have more first-round submissions than he has of total wins in his record. We’ll see if he’s really good.
"I don’t like to make predictions, but I think it ends with a submission. A quick one, as usual," he added. "It’s up to him. My attacks depends on the prey. That’s how I work. When he thinks he’s safe, that’s when the anaconda will strangle him."