Stepping back inside the Octagon after proving his innocence in a USADA case earlier this year, de Lima will also be moving up to the heavyweight division. “Pezao,” who joined the company after competing as a heavyweight on TUF Brazil in 2014 and stopped Richardson Moreira in just 20 seconds in his debut, cut down to light heavyweight immediately after that and went 3-3 over his next six bouts.
After feeling miserable in his last few weight cuts, and coming in way over the limit for his fights against Jeremy Kimball (209.6 pounds) and Ovince Saint Preux (210 pounds), de Lima decided that he’s had enough.
”I always weighed around 262 pounds, so it was a big fight for me to cut weight,” de Lima told MMA Fighting. “I would get to a point in my camp that I would only worry about the weight and start losing muscle as well, so it was rough. I’m happy now. I was talking to (Junior dos Santos) ’Cigano’ the other day, ‘Brother, I only worry about performance now, about getting ready for fight night.’”
De Lima faces Adam Wieczorek in the preliminary portion of UFC 230, which takes place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 3.
”I did a hard wrestling practice today with heavy guys, and I felt great,” de Lima said. “That’s something I wasn’t able to do before. It was really hard. I would pump the breaks to stay healthy for the fight. For my fight with (Gadzhimurad) Antigulov, I got injured a day before leaving to Sao Paulo because my muscles were too weak. I’m a real heavyweight, most of the guys I train with are heavyweights, so that doesn’t change much for me other than me not having to lose so much weight.”
With a 3-1 record as a heavyweight inside the Octagon, including his 2-1 unofficial run on TUF Brazil 3 four years ago, de Lima doesn’t regret trying to make a career at light heavyweight. However, he expects a brighter future now that he stopped hurting his body.
”Heavyweight is a great division,” de Lima said. “It’s a tough weight class, but two or three wins and you’re already ranked, so that’s the right moment for me.”
“Pezao” is feeling better and more confident ahead of UFC 230, but the fact is that he’s still coming off a defeat to OSP and having missed weight twice in a row. Nonetheless, the American Top Team product doesn’t believe that his job is on the line in New York.
”I don’t feel under pressure by any means. I will be ready on November 3rd,” de Lima said. “I can’t control my opponent, I can’t control the referee and the judges, the only thing I can control is myself. I trained hard, I’m feeling well, and I know I will be able to put on a great performance.”
Wieczorek (10-1) has won twice so far under the UFC banner, defeating Anthony Hamilton in his promotional debut and submitting Arjan Bhullar in April. The young Polish heavyweight stepped in on short notice to fight de Lima, replacing Ruslan Magomedov.
”The opponent has changed, but my focus remains the same,” de Lima said. “Ruslan was more technical on the feet, but the Pole is tougher, moves forward, and that gives me more openings, especially on the feet. His ground game is good, but he doesn’t have good takedowns. He’s tall, but when I start landing my hands and kicks he will feel it, and it will definitely be a great victory.”