Hacran Dias only fought four times since joining the UFC in 2012, and he feels that a win at Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 70 in Hollywood will keep him safe in the UFC roster.
The Nova Uniao featherweight defeated Darren Elkins via unanimous decision in December, moving back to the win column following losses to Nik Lentz and Ricardo Lamas, and admits he had his back against the wall in his last UFC fight.
"That win in December was important because I was coming off two losses and I knew my neck was at risk," Dias told MMAFighting.com. "I only think about winning now. My preparation was great and I’m focused. Winning two in a row will be important, it will keep me more safe and confident. I have to win, and I have to win a good fight. I will stay confident, win and aim for the top 10 of the division."
Dias initially expected to fight at Brazil’s UFC Fight Night 67 on May 30, but the UFC couldn’t find an opponent. Sources at the time told MMAFighting.com that Clay Guida was offered the fight, but it never materialized.
"There were some negotiation but it didn’t go through," Dias said of Guida. "I was scheduled to fight on May 30 but they couldn’t get me an opponent, so I continued to train to fight now. They ended up matching me up against Chas Skelly, and then he got hurt and now I’m fighting Levan Makashvili.
"I changed my training a bit after the change of opponents, but I was training everything since day one. I trained more grappling this time, to get to positions and finish the fight. I’m feeling good. Levan likes to strike and grapple, but I will put some pressure and do my game."
Makashvili entered the UFC in May, improving to 7-1 as a mixed martial artist with a split decision victory over Mark Eddiva. Dias, who suffered his two UFC losses to two of the best fighters in the division, blames lack of experience for his 2-2 UFC record.
"Ever since I got in the UFC they matched me up against the top of the division," said Dias, who was also booked to fight Chad Mendes and Tatsuya Kawajiri, but was pulled out with injuries. "I never chose opponents and never will. In my opinion, not taking anything away from them, I didn’t see anything special with them. I could have put more pressure in the first round against Nik Lentz and I would have won the fight. Same thing with Ricardo Lamas.
"I think I lacked more experience in the UFC. Those losses taught me a lot, and I will take that with me into the Octagon. That’s important."
Dias hasn’t finished a fight since his Shooto Brazil days in 2011, and plans on earning his first stoppage inside the Octagon against Makashvili.
"I will always go for the knockout," he said. "I worked hard on my jiu-jitsu as well, and I will try to submit him if we go to the ground. I will try to finish him all the time. I have to come out victorious."