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Handesson Ferreira considered retirement before PFL call

Handesson Ferreira stopped Paul Bradley in his PFL debut in August.
Photo by PFL

Handesson Ferreira had to go through a lot before his stunning 20-second knockout over Paul Bradley guaranteed him a spot in Saturday’s PFL 10 quarterfinal against Rick Story.

“Boy Doido” has beaten some of the best welterweights in Brazil over the past years, collecting belts left and right. He was listed as one of the best prospects in his native country in 2016 among talents like Poliana Botelho, Viviane Pereira, Luan Chagas, Amanda Lemos and Bruna Ellen. Ferreira saw all of them sign with the UFC or Bellator, but his phone never rang.

The Pitbull Brothers welterweight got the chance to compete outside of Brazil for the second time in his career last November, when he took a unanimous decision over Ray Cooper III in Honolulu. And yet, even months after such a big win, nothing appeared to change for him.

”I was going to stop fighting,” Ferreira told MMA Fighting. “I asked God for a chance and kept training, but it was discouraging. My record (12-1-1) should have earned me a chance in any promotion out there against anyone. I know how hard I work, so it was discouraging that I didn’t have a fight, I didn’t have an opportunity. Doors kept closing in front of me.”

Ferreira entered the cage nine times between 2015 and 2017 in Brazil after spending a year in England some time before, working many different jobs while training with Michael Page, but the money still wasn’t enough.

A long layoff between his last fight in Brazil and the Cooper bout was too much, so he decided to find another job to help his wife pay the bills.

”My last year was rough,” Ferreira said. “To be really honest with you, my wife was the one hanging tight for the family. I thought about finding a second job but she said, ‘no, we’ve been in this battle for a long time and we can hold tight a bit more.’ I thought about getting a job to make extra money because even though I fought four times in 2017, I was basically paying to fight. I had to buy flight tickets and pretty much made no money fighting in Brazil.

“Retirement was a negative thought that came to my head, but my wife was always there for me and believed in me even more than I believed in myself, and that gave me strength.”

Ferreira held the Jungle Fight, Max Fight, Primeiro Round Combat and Gemeos Fight welterweight belts in Brazil, but wondered if the call would ever come. Having a psychologist as his wife helped him a great deal.

Some time after his win over Cooper in Hawaii, Ferreira heard from a friend that PFL would do a million-dollar playoff in 2018 and he would probably enter the competition, so he started training for it. Time went by, the spots were filled and the contract never came.

The PFL regular season was already underway when Ferreira finally got his chance after Bradley was shifted from cards due to an injury, and he made the most of it by recording a spectacular finish.

After years of struggle in Brazil, “Boy Doido” now has a chance do become a millionaire in 2018.

”It was frustrating because I was beating up everybody in Brazil but still didn’t get an opportunity,” Ferreira said, “But it’s all hard work. (PFL) was made for me.”

Ferreira takes on Story in the preliminary portion of PFL 10 at Washington’s Entertainment and Sports Arena on Oct. 20, and needs two wins Saturday night to guarantee a spot in the million-dollar playoff final in New York on Dec. 29.

”I love these types of challenges,” Ferreira said of the playoff. “Rick Story had a war with a Brazilian, 15 minutes of war, and has evolved a lot in his fights. He’s tough, fast and strong, so you can expect a great fight. I’ll give everything I have in the first round and even more in the second round. I was robbed once when I went the distance against ‘Patolino’ (William Macario), so I always go for the knockout in my fights.”

If victorious against Story, Ferreira will enter the cage one more time Saturday to face the winner of Cooper III-Jake Shields. The second finalist will emerge from the other side of the bracket, which features Magomed Magomedkerimov-Pavel Kusch and Bojan Velickovic-Abubakar Nurmagomedov.

”Ray Cooper beat Jake Shields once, got past him easily, and I think he will win again and then we meet in the semifinal,” Ferreira said. “He has evolved a lot, is more aggressive and fast, but I’ve evolved since my fight as well.”

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