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Thomas Almeida ignores Cody Garbrandt’s ‘cab drivers’ comment, wants quick knockout in Las Vegas

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Almeida and Cody Garbrandt enter their first UFC main event Sunday night in Las Vegas, and "No Love" ramped things up by criticizing Almeida’s undefeated record.

On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Garbrandt discounted Almeida's record as being padded, and said that he entered the UFC with a perfect 17-0 record only because he'd been fighting "cab drivers" in Brazil. After signing with the UFC, Almeida scored four straight wins with three knockouts. Garbrandt, also unbeaten in MMA, holds an 8-0 record with here UFC wins.

"Of course he has a padded record," Garbrandt, poking Almeida for predicting a second-round win. "If I'm 21-0, however many cab drivers he beat for that record, I would be very confident definitely that I would beat an 8-0 guy in the first round. Anybody that I fought in the first round, so for him to say he'd knock me out in the second, feels like he has a little bit of doubt in himself, you know? I want to make sure that bout won't go beyond the first round."

Speaking with MMA Fighting after Friday’s official weigh-ins, Almeida chose to ignore his opponent’s critics.

"People promote the fight the way they want," Almeida said. "My focus is to train and fight. I do my marketing when the cage door is closed. I don’t care about what he thinks or says about me. Let him promote the fight the way he wants, I don’t care."

The Chute Boxe talent wouldn’t pick a round, but vows to go for the stoppage as soon as the fight starts.

"I like to finish the fight as soon as possible," Almeida said. "I believe, based on our fighting styles, that this fight won’t go the distance. I will go for the knockout as soon as the referee lets us fight.

"He’s a striker and likes to trade, likes to finish fights before the decision," he continued. "That’s what stands out the most about him. I believe he will want to stand and trade with me because we are both strikers, but I don’t care about his strategies. I will be ready to fight wherever we go."

One of the most aggressive fighters in the UFC today, Almeida tends to get hit early in the fight before coming back and finishing his opponent. In 21 professional fights, he only went the distance one -- and only four opponents didn’t get stopped inside one round.

"I like to feel the fight first, find the distance, to feel my opponent, so I guess that’s why people say I only wake up after I get punched," he said with a laugh.

Almeida and Garbrandt are two of the best up-and-coming talents in the UFC bantamweight division. At 24-years old, one of the prospects will suffer his first defeat at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, and Almeida is glad that the promotion matched up two of their rising talents against each other so early in their careers.

"I don’t think about the reasons why the UFC matches their fights," Almeida said. "I’m an employee, and I’m ready to work against whoever they want. The division is stacked and this fight would be inevitable, so it’s great that it’s happening soon."

The winner at UFC Fight Night 88 gets one step closer to being a title contender, but the Brazilian 135-pounder isn’t focused on it -- yet.

"I really don’t think about it," Almeida said. "It’s a dream, it’s what I want the most, but I focus on training and being ready. When the time comes, I’ll be ready. I let (my manager and coach) Diego Lima and the UFC work on that. My job is to train, train and train."

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