Alex Oliveira received an unexpected call from the UFC days before UFC Fight Night 62. Gilbert Burns needed a new opponent after Josh Thomson got hurt, so he took the fight. Many didn’t expect him to last more than a round against the undefeated grappler, and "Cowboy" dominated "Durinho" for two rounds before getting tapped.
Oliveira returned to the Octagon two months later, replacing Yan Cabral against former Elite XC lightweight champion K.J. Noons. Oliveira and Noons agreed to fight at 170 pounds since "Cowboy" wouldn’t be able to cut down to 155 pounds in days, and "Cowboy" submitted Noons in just three minutes.
Fresh off an impressive victory, Oliveira again takes a fight on short notice. Booked against undefeated UFC newcomer Joey Merritt at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 70 card in Hollywood, "Cowboy" explains why he agreed to fight his third UFC bout in just 99 days.
"Three in a row, right, brother?" Oliveira told MMAFighting.com. "I was already trained and focused. An opportunity can be presented to you at any moment, and you have to be able to grab it. They gave me another opportunity, and I’m in. I will fight anyone, at any moment. I’m always prepared to brawl and to grapple."
Oliveira will fight at 170 pounds one more time, but plans on cutting down to lightweight when given the chance to do a full training camp. And Oliveira welcomes the comparison with the other "Cowboy" at 155 pounds, lightweight title contender Donald Cerrone.
"That’s who we are," the Brazilian "Cowboy" said with a laugh. "We don’t turn down fights. If they call us, we will brawl. That’s what we train for. I can’t stay out of the gym, so every time they call me I’m ready to fight. If I’m training, I want to fight."
Oliveira’s opponent at UFN 70, Merritt enters the bout after racking up a perfect 6-0 record with six knockout finishes, but the Brazilian expects to finish him in Hollywood.
"He’s making his debut in the UFC, but he’s a tough guy, a striker, and has knockout power, but I like my hands better than his," Oliveira said. "We will brawl, brother. He likes to brawl, and I see openings in his striking game, so I will go there and knock him out. He has to be careful with my hand. If I land my hand, he will go down.
"I see myself knocking him out. He moves a lot, so I expect anything, but I will find his face anywhere and knock him out."