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Cezar Ferreira feels close to his ‘prime’ and ready for the top 15 — even if UFC rankings are ‘a joke’

Cezar Ferreira choked out Karl Roberson in his last UFC fight.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Cezar Ferreira has won five of his last six UFC fights — he’s 6-0 over that span, if you ask him — but it’s his UFC Argentina clash with Ian Heinisch that Ferreira sees as his coming out party.

The winner of the first-ever The Ultimate Fighter Brazil back in 2013, “Mutante” enters his 17th fight inside the Octagon on Saturday, including his four wins in the reality show. That experience has him feeling more mature as a mixed martial artist than ever. Ferreira is 5-1 since moving back up to middleweight, a run highlighted by wins over Anthony Smith, Jack Hermansson, and Nate Marquardt.

“Doing what you love is priceless,” Ferreira told MMA Fighting. “I’m more than excited for another fight in the UFC. I can consider myself a veteran in the UFC already, it’s been five and a half years and I’m going to my 14th fight. I think I’m reaching my prime. I still have a lot to improve, but I feel ready to crack the top of the division.”

For the MMA Masters product, winning on Saturday night in Buenos Aires could mean a shot at a top-15 middleweight next — even if Ferreira doesn’t consider the official UFC rankings to be a respectable list.

“I’m happy with my last performances, and I’m ready to start my run to the title,” Ferreira said. “This ranking is a joke. It bothers everyone because those who vote in the ranking don’t understand the sport. It should be whoever wins more gets in the ranking.

“I won six in a row — that one loss was a controversial one — I’m coming off good performances, and I don’t know what should I do to get in the ranking. I’ll just focus on winning fights and earn my opportunities. I don’t pay too much attention to the rankings, I’m focused on winning and earning my space.”

Standing across the Octagon at Parque Roca Arena will be Heinisch, a promotional newcomer who replaced Tom Breese on short notice. “The Hurricane” signed with the UFC after stopping Justin Sumter in the first round at Dana White’s Contender Series in July.

“The change of opponents doesn’t affect my strategy that much. Just adapt and fight,” Ferreira said. “When we sign the contract, we know that might happen, but it is what it is. It’s another tough opponent. His record speaks for itself, 11-1. When you sign with the UFC you know you’re one of the best in the world in your division, so I’m prepared to fight him. I’ll respect him, do my best, and impose my game.”

With three submission wins since his becoming the original TUF Brazil winner, including his impressive finish against Karl Roberson earlier this year, “Mutante” won’t bring a one-dimensional approach to his meeting with Heinisch.

”We always focus on everything. MMA is a very wide sport and we never know what will happen,” Ferreira said. “Sometimes you plan one thing and something else happens so if you’re not physically and mentally prepared for anything, you freeze. I’m ready for three rounds at the highest pace on the feet and on the ground because I know he does it all.”

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