BRASILIA, Brazil -- Jussier Formiga once was the No. 1 flyweight in the world, and he changed his approach to the game in order to get back to the top.
Matched up against Dustin Ortiz at UFC Fight Night 95 in Brasilia, Brazil, on Saturday night, the Nova Uniao talent decided to stop thinking about UFC title shots. Coming off a loss to Henry Cejudo in November, a result that gave his opponent a chance for the gold against flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson, Formiga won’t discuss title shots anymore.
"This time without fights was great because I had a chance to rethink my career," Formiga told MMA Fighting. "I got close to fighting for the belt twice, but I have decided to stop thinking about it now. I won’t want to fight with this idea that I have to get through this guy to show something to someone. I want to fight to have fun and do what I do best. Whatever happens, happens. I will get the job done.
"Many people talk about title shots and speculate," he continued. "When you have a good win, they always ask about the belt. But I have to stop thinking about it. I have to focus on my opponent and do what I do best."
Even though he’s changed his mind set, Formiga, who holds wins over the likes of Wilson Reis, Zach Makovsky, Scott Jorgensen and Chris Cariaso, admits that not winning a belt in the UFC can change the way he will be seen in the future -- and that gets him pumped up again.
"I believe that a fighter’s career is made of highs and lows," he said. "I dominated the division before the UFC opened the flyweight division, and I want to show everybody I’m one of the best. It will happen naturally. Not being cocky, I know I’m still one of the best, and it will happen naturally. I will get there."
Formiga had a long time to rethink his career, but his original plan was to compete around June in the United States. However, the Nova Uniao fighter says that the promotion kept postponing his return. In the end, it worked out perfect for him.
"I’ve been training all year for this fight," Formiga said. "At first, I was going to fight in June, and then they moved it to July in Sioux Falls, and then to September. But I was already training. I helped Jose Aldo in his camp because I’m as tall as Frankie Edgar. When I went back to Natal, that’s when they called me with a date and opponent for my fight, so I returned to Rio for my camp. It was perfect.
"When I’m in Rio to help Aldo, we train more focused. It was a great chance to train the technical aspect of the game outside a camp. Wrestling, boxing, muay thai, and also the chance to do some different sparring during Aldo’s camp. It was a great experience for me."
Formiga has a positive record when fighting in Brazil, winning three of his four UFC bouts in his native country. Ortiz also has good memories from Brazil, when he successfully made his Octagon debut in Rio de Janeiro by beating Jose Maria Tome via TKO.
At UFC Fight Night 95, Formiga aims to win by any means, and foresees a complicated clash style-wise.
"Dustin has an interesting style," Formiga said. "He’s not a grappler or a striker, he pretty much does everything, so it’s a good match-up for me. Other fighters might see me as a pure grappler, but I have showed that I can fight in all areas. Dustin stood and fought 15 minutes fight (Joseph) Benavidez, and grappled with (John) Moraga, so you don’t know what to expect from him. Anything can happen."