Dealing with a three-fight skid for the first time in his career, and no wins in 3 1⁄2 years, the Brazilian veteran’s focus has changed a lot going into this lightweight bout.
”I’m not even thinking about records, I’m focused on this victory,” Tibau told MMA Fighting. “He’s a tough guy, athletic, he wants the victory, and I need the victory myself. I need this victory to be able to get some rest, breathe. I came back to fighting after a long, terrible time in my career, and I didn’t have the success I expected, but I’m focused on bringing this victory and finally get some rest.”
Tibau was suspended two years by USADA after testing positive for EPO in 2015. He admitted to using the substance and was forced to stay away from the game for 24 months. As soon as he was cleared to fight again, Tibau was matched up against Islam Makhachev at UFC 220 in January 2018, but only lasted 57 seconds.
Months later, he admits he only took the fight to make money.
”My last camp, something we don’t tell the media or anyone else, I had many injuries,” said Tibau, revealing he fractured his left hand and tore his right biceps weeks before UFC 220. “Doctors wanted to take me off the fight but I couldn’t. I told them I had to fight because I had no money left. I had to fight to make money.
”I told my coaches, ‘I don’t wanna know about the result, I need to fight.’ I could fight with only one arm, with only my legs. I just had to fight. This time, I have no injuries. My camp was way better.”
Tibau says he felt “desperate” before his return at UFC 220. He couldn’t spar or even throw a punch before his fight with Makhachev, but couldn’t afford pulling out of a fight and not being paid after two years. Doctors advised Tibau to undergo surgery after the loss to fix his biceps injury, but it wasn’t hurting anymore — and staying out for more months would once again ruin his rhythm.
”It will be different this time because I’ll be more alert, with more rhythm,” Tibau said. “I won’t be afraid to grapple or punch without feeling any pain. My game will flow now and I hope I can do a great fight. If I’m able to do what I trained, it’s going to be an excellent fight.”