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How Fernando Bruno's part-time job helps (and disturbs) his UFC career

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Ultimate Fighter Brazil finalist Fernando Bruno changed his routine a bit before the biggest fight of his career. After losing to Glaico Franca at the TUF Brazil 4 lightweight final in August, Bruno moves back down to 145 pounds to meet former lightweight title contender Gray Maynard at Friday’s TUF 23 Finale in Las Vegas.

And even though Maynard enters the bout in a must-win situation after losing four of his last five fights, the Nova Uniao fighter expects a tough challenge inside the Octagon.

"He’s hungry to win and that will make the fight more beautiful, more interesting," Bruno said during a recent media scrum in Rio de Janeiro. "I’m hungry to prove what I’m capable of after my last fight, and fighting in my division will be better for me."

Maynard is no stranger to Nova Uniao. Before one of his championship fights with Frankie Edgar, Maynard traveled to Rio de Janeiro to train with Jose Aldo, but Bruno never had the chance to spar with him.

"He came here twice to train with Jose Aldo, but unfortunately I couldn’t train with him and learn what he came here to teach because I was working while he was here," Bruno said. "He’s a wrestler and people learned a lot from him here, but I’m a judoka so it’s a good match-up for me.

"I was surprised (when the fight was offered) because he already trained here before, fought for the UFC title before, but it’s a great fight for me," he continued. "Winning this fight, I will move up the rankings in the division because Gray Maynard is a popular fighter, and the UFC likes him. I know that I’m better than him in his game, and I think I’m going to win."

Bruno has recently changed his routine a bit before Friday’s fight. The UFC featherweight works in the kitchen of one of Rio de Janeiro’s best hotels, and being around good food for hours is a terrible idea when you have weight to cut.

"I work at the Pestana hotel, and they always help me when I have a fight coming," he said. "Sometimes I have to leave to train, and they give me an extra hour during lunch break. My colleagues help me a lot, too. It’s tough, but I like to cook and I love to fight, so that makes it easier. It’s easy when you do what you love.

"Being in the kitchen and loving to eat makes it harder, but they gave me a few weeks off to focus on my camp and diet. That’s one of the reasons why I can cut down in weight now since I’ll be far away from the goodies. ‘Hey, wanna try this desert?’ That was hard for me [laughs]. Especially those Portuguese deserts... I’m addicted to candy, but it’s like venom.

"I tried everything I cooked. When I started working there, they told me I’d get sick of it eventually, but I’ve been doing this for 14 years already and can’t get tired [laughs]."

Bruno, 34, fought the majority of his MMA career in Brazil as a featherweight, racking up a 15-2 record before joining TUF Brazil 4. Now a UFC fighter, the Rio de Janeiro native expects to be able to become a full-time fighter after four UFC bouts and finally be able to see candies only when he’s off-camp.

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