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UFC 220’s Thomas Almeida not thinking about belts, willing to ‘kill or die’ in the Octagon

Thomas Almeida (Inovafoto)
Thomas Almeida returns to action against Rob Font in Boston.

Six months after losing a decision to Jimmie Rivera in an exciting contest in Long Island, bantamweight striker Thomas Almeida is slated to meet Rob Font in the pay-per-view portion of Saturday’s UFC 220 in Boston and ready to get back on track.

Before agreeing to step inside the Octagon on Jan. 20, Almeida stepped on a plane and spent 20 days training in Thailand. He wanted to clear his mind after a 1-2 stint since 2016, but also add a thing or two to his muay thai game.

“Thominhas” accepted an offer to meet Font in Boston, and expects it to be a good chance to put on another exciting war.

”He’s a good boxer,” Almeida told MMA Fighting, “so I think he will try to trade punches with me.”

Font only went the distance once in five UFC bouts, scoring three knockouts and one submission finish. In his only 15-minute fight, the 30-year-old fighter lost a decision against John Lineker, one of the hardest hitters in the bantamweight division.

”He didn’t close the distance against Lineker, and that’s why Lineker wasn’t able to knock him out,” Almeida said. “I believe he will try to fight me in a long distance as well, but I’m prepared to impose my game. I will try to finish this fight as soon as possible, by knockout or submission.”

Almeida signed with the UFC in 2014 after racking up an impressive 17-0 record with all of his wins coming by way of stoppage, and has been treated by the company as one of the hottest prospects from Brazil.

The Chute Boxe fighter quickly went 4-0 in the Octagon, pocketing extra $200,000 in post-fight bonuses, but then suffered his first setback in MMA, a knockout loss to future champion Cody Garbrandt.

Almeida came back to the winning column against Albert Morales months later, before losing a decision to Rivera.

”This is something that the media imposes,” Almeida said of being treated as a future star in MMA. “I train every day and step in the cage to do the best for me, for my team, friends and family. I don’t consider myself a prospect because, for me, every fighter in the UFC already is a reality.

”Everyone in the company has worked hard to achieve their dreams and had to sweat and bleed a lot. I also don’t consider this to be a weight over my shoulders. I will always do my best in there because I’m willing to kill or die. This is my life.

“There are no easy fights in the UFC. This is where the best are, and I will always be ready to fight whoever they choose. I never choose opponents and will always do my best.”

Font might not have the name and recognition of the likes of Rivera and Garbrandt, but Almeida sees him as tough as it gets.

“I honestly feel he’s very tough, just like everyone I fought, but each one with his own different style,” he said. “Brad (Pickett) was very experienced and had heavy hands. (Yves) Jabouin had a great wrestling. Morales was very aggressive, always coming forwards. They are all tough and deserve respect.”

In a division which most of its top ranked contenders sidelined with injuries, a big win over Font could put Almeida right back in the title picture. The Brazilian striker knows that can be the case, but is not worrying about it.

”I don’t think about the belt now, to be honest, especially with this fight booked,” Almeida said. “The belt is my biggest dream and I always work hard to win it, but my focus now is 100 percent on Rob Font.”

And with Garbrandt not holding the belt anymore, a rematch between the knockout artists could be on the horizon for 2018.

”I believe that it’s highly likely that we will fight in the future because of our fighting style,” he said. “I don’t think about him. The day that happens, my team and I will analyze and prepare the best strategy to win.”

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