Julio Cesar Neves started his MMA career at age 18. Less than four years later, he’s already looking for his 31st victory.
Born in Balneario Camboriu, Santa Catarina, "Morceguinho" is one of the best featherweight prospects out of Brazil, but always had to deal with criticism for the level of competition he has faced in Brazil.
After scoring one of the best knockouts of the year in 2013, Neves signed with Bellator and added a couple more wins to his record, finishing Josh Arocho and Poppies Martinez. At Friday’s Bellator 137 event in Temecula, Neves faces Jordan Parsons.
An 11-1 prospect from Alliance MMA, Parsons won his Bellator debut by knocking out Tim Bazer just four seconds into the second round, but that didn’t impress the Brazilian.
"I watched his last fight. As a matter of fact, I was there and fought on the same card," Neves told MMAFighting.com. "I didn’t watch the first round, but saw the knockout… No big deal.
"Yes, I think we can say that he is my ‘toughest’ opponent I’ve ever faced. It’s a good match-up. He’s a wrestler but also likes to trade punches standing, and so do I. It’s going to be a fun fight."
Critics are still out there despite his pair of Bellator wins, but "Morceguinho" chooses to ignore them.
"Critics will always happen," Neves said. "Fighting well or performing badly, someone out there won’t like. I don’t care about those who criticize me. I just do my job and ignore what they are saying. I did my job and won.
"I don’t feel I’m under pressure because of that, but I’m happy to shut them up. I will continue to fight and win. In fact, this time I want to win by submission. It’s been a while since my last submission. After that, I want to fight on the main card next."
Neves hasn’t fought over the past eight months, entering the cage twice in 2014. For a fighter who fought and won 15 times in 2013, that’s not enough, but not an issue.
"It’s not a problem. Actually, I think it helps me because it prevents me from getting injured," he said. "If I could to fight every month, I would love that too. Bellator is a big promotion, so it’s normal that we don’t fight that often. I don’t have training camps. I train hard every day to be ready to fight on short notice."