SAO PAULO, Brazil — Francisco Trinaldo is close to turning 40 years old, but he has no intention of slowing down.
A longtime veteran of the sport, “Massaranduba” has racked up a 12-5 record since joining the UFC in 2012, and now he has one plan in his mind: Secure as many wins as possible until he guarantees himself another chance to fight top-ranked lightweight Kevin Lee.
Trinaldo, who lost to James Vick in his most recent appearance, will be back in action on Saturday night, when he faces Evan Dunham at the UFC Sao Paulo card in Brazil.
“I’m just working to get a couple of wins and then beat up Kevin Lee, because that loss is still stuck in my throat,” Trinaldo told MMA Fighting. “I want to fight twice and then ask for Kevin Lee again, because I want to show him how it’s done.”
Trinaldo was riding a seven-fight UFC winning streak that included victories over Paul Felder, Yancy Medeiros, and Ross Pearson when he met Lee in Brazil in March of 2017. A win could have put “Massaranduba” in the conversation for lightweight title shot, but he ended up losing by second-round submission.
Now Trinaldo is hell-bent on facing Lee a second time in the Octagon.
“It bothers me because he defeated me, but what bothers me the most is that he disrespected my people, so I will beat him up,” Trinaldo said, referring to Lee’s antics at the ceremonial weigh-ins. “I always respect everyone, but he doesn’t. We’ll fight again. One way or the other, we will rematch. It would be a good rematch. He likes to sell fights, and I would do anything to fight him. I will even curse at his mother if I have to.
“I would definitely knock him out,” he continued. “I’ll tell you the truth, no one paid attention to Kevin Lee before he fought me. He has his merits, I won’t say he’s a bad fighter — he’s an excellent fighter — but I have what it takes to beat him and I will show everyone that.”
A win over a veteran like Dunham might not put “Massaranduba” one win away from a rematch with Lee, but it could help him get one step closer to returning to the top 15 of the lightweight division.
“I will do my best,” Trinaldo said. “I don’t care too much about what he’s good at. I know that if I do my best, I will come out victorious. I’m going there to finish him. I know I will have my hands raised in the end. He’s not the first or the last tough opponent I’m facing, so I’m going there to knock him out. I’m going there to win.
“He has a good ground game so I expect him to try to go there with me, but I’m ready,” he continued. “I will give him and the crowd a great fight. It will be one of the best fights of the night. I hope he’s as prepared as I am so we can put on a show. I want to give my best to knock him out, to beat him up. I know he’s good, a great opponent with many fights in the UFC, but if I unleash my game in there, I will win.”
Dunham has announced he will officially retire from the sport after his UFC Sao Paulo clash with Trinaldo, and the Brazilian feels that’s another reason to put on a show for the fans.
“If he’s going to retire, we’ll put on a fight no one ever forgets,” Trinaldo said. “Let’s put on a show for him. I want that people think of ‘Massaranduba’ every time they talk about him because we put on a show for the fans in Sao Paulo.”