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After ‘frustrating’ 11-second no contest, Antonio Carlos Junior vows to make opponent pay at UFN 85

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Antonio Carlos Junior made an impressive middleweight debut last June, tapping Eddie Gorgon with 23 seconds left in the clock at UFC Fight Night 70. Six months later, his showdown with Kevin Casey ended in disappointing fashion.

Matched up against the fellow jiu-jitsu black belt in the preliminary portion of UFC Fight Night 80, "Cara de Sapato" accidently poked Casey in the eye just 11 seconds into the first round, and doctors called the end of the bout.

"I wish we had really fought but that accident happened," Junior told "It was frustrating for me because we always expect a win, or even a loss, but never a no contest. That no contest was disappointing for me, especially so early in the fight. I got that desire to fight right away, so I asked my manager Alex (Davis) to get me another fight as soon as possible."

Casey returned to action less than two months later, facing Rafael Natal at UFC on FOX 18, but Junior won’t doubt his reasons not to continue fighting at UFN 80.

"It’s hard to judge him because I didn’t feel his pain, but he fought again a month after," said the Brazilian. "I don’t know if it was that serious, but maybe he was scared at the moment. He’s the only person who really knows if he was able to continue fighting or not. I don’t even want to think about that fight anymore. I was upset, and I bet he was upset too. I’m focused on my next fight because it’s a tough one.

"You see (eye pokes) happening a lot with Jon Jones, a guy that uses his long reach really well. I also like to use my hands open, but usually don’t hit my opponents in the eye. When (Casey) closed the distance I tried to push him away, and you do that with open hands, but ended up poking him in the eye. It was an accident."

Aside from the quick no contest, "Cara de Sapato" holds a 5-1 MMA record with four submission victories. The only time he went the distance was in a heavyweight showdown with Vitor Miranda, when he scored a unanimous decision to win the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil.

Looking for his second win as a middleweight, Junior takes on Daniel Kelly at UFC Fight Night 85 in Australia on March 19.

"I want to grow in the UFC, show how mature I am, and I trained hard for this fight," he said. "I want to show what I’ve learned in the gym. He won’t pay for my last fight, but he will pay for the beating I took in the gym from my training partners [laughs]. I got beat up by them, but I’ve learned a lot as well."

A four-time Olympian representing Australia, Kelly holds a 10-1 MMA record with five submission victories, and multiple-time jiu-jitsu champion "Cara de Sapato" expects a grappling exchange inside the Octagon.

"He’s a judoka, so he always goes for takedowns. Most of his wins are by submission, so I don’t think he’s that easy to beat on the ground," he said. "I’m a jiu-jitsu fighter, but I trained hard to get him on his back. It would make it a lot easier for me. That’s the ideal way."

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