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One card, three opponents: Diego Ferreira details rollercoaster of emotions ahead of UFC 231

Diego Ferreira enters UFC 231 on a two-fight winning streak over Jared Gordon and Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Diego Ferreira had three different opponents for Saturday’s UFC 231 over the past two weeks.

The Brazilian was booked against experienced Canadian lightweight John Makdessi for the Dec. 8 card in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and couldn’t be more excited for it. Speaking with MMA Fighting last month, Ferreira explained why this match-up was going to be so great for his career.

“I wanted to fight him for a while, I said ‘I would love to fight this guy one day,’ and looks like God heard me because he put him in my way,” Ferreira said at the time. “I love facing strikers because I get to work on my boxing, which is where I need more work. He’s very explosive, and that made me train harder to win and move up the ranking. It’s a challenge for me.”

Less than 24 hours later, it was reported that Makdessi was forced out of the card due to an injury, and fellow Canadian talent Jesse Ronson had agreed to replace him on 10 days’ notice, making his return to the promotion four years after his first UFC run.

“I don’t know much about Jesse Ronson,” Ferreira told MMA Fighting on Dec. 5. “I know he fought three times in the UFC and lost all three. He’s a southpaw, won five in a row, and that’s all I know. There’s no strategy. We’re going there to brawl, there’s no time to set up strategies. The thing is going there and fighting. I’m focused. I hope he doesn’t get hurt and makes weight.”

It would all change a week later, though, as Ronson was pulled from the card during fight week for being too heavy. Ferreira was once again opponent-less, but kept cutting weight, hoping that matchmakers would find another rival to enter the cage against him.

With a little more than 72 hours to compete, 27-year-old Canadian prospect Kyle Nelson took the call, stepping up to face Ferreira at the Scotiabank Arena.

“They changed again,” Ferreira told MMA Fighting on Dec. 6. “I think this guy is a featherweight, but there’s no discussion, let’s go make weight and see what happens Saturday. I’m very anxious. I worked really hard for this fight. I know they changed my opponent twice, so I just hope this guy makes weight. I just want to go there and fight. That’s what matters the most.”

On Friday morning, Nelson made weight at 155.5 pounds.

Ferreira (13-2) enters the fight coming off back-to-back victories over Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Jared Gordon. Nelson (12-1), on the other hand, makes his UFC debut on three days notice after winning six in a row in the regional circuit, competing at both featherweight and lightweight.

In the end, Ferreira just wants to get a win Saturday and move on to bigger and better things — and he knows exactly who he wants next in the Octagon to get him closer to the top 5 of the lightweight division.

Alexander Hernandez, who will fight (Francisco) Trinaldo in January, is a good match-up for me because he’s from Texas as well,” Ferreira said. “He knocked out (Beneil) Dariush, whom I couldn’t defeat, and also beat Olivier, so he’s my focus next. And I would also like to fight ‘The Texecutioner’ (James Vick). I hope to fight either one of them soon, so let’s see what happens.”

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