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Carlo Pedersoli Jr. hoping to bring Octagon to Rome after UFC Sao Paulo

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Liverpool: Scott vs Pedersoli
Carlo Pedersoli Jr. faces Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira on Saturday in Sao Paulo
Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Carlo Pedersoli Jr. is fine with marching into enemy lands. He just hopes that someday he gets the chance to be the one defending his territory.

Making his UFC debut on less than two weeks’ notice this past May, Pedersoli managed to defeat veteran Bradley Scott in Scott’s home country of England. Up next for Pedersoli is a welterweight matchup with Brazilian finisher Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira in the co-main event of UFC Sao Paulo on Saturday, another booking where he can expect a hostile crowd.

Pedersoli’s last two fights before joining the UFC also came against opponents backed by the majority of the audience. He fought Romanian Mircea Dumitrescu in the city of Brasov, and then traveled to Sweden for a Cage Warriors show where he fought Nicolas Dalby, who hails from neighboring Denmark.

Playing the visiting villain hasn’t been too troubling for Pedersoli (11-1), but he’s making it a point on Saturday not to leave things in the hands of the Brazilian judges after his last two fights ended in split calls.

“I think I have to improve every time. But I think that was a unanimous decision,” Pedersoli told MMA Fighting when asked about the split verdict against Scott. “It’s difficult because Scott was from England, so the judges are from England, so every time you fight in another place that is not your hometown you have to win by KO or submission because the decision will be difficult.”

Pedersoli is going up against a proven finisher in Oliveira, who hasn’t been to the scorecards in his past six outings. He hopes to match the ferocity of Oliveira and steal his spot in the contenders’ rankings.

“I don’t want this fight to end by points, by decision,” said Pedersoli. “I will try my best to finish this fight in my opportunities. But I know it’s a difficult fight, he’s one of the best in the division, but I’m hungry and I want my legacy, so I accept this fight because I think it’s a good moment to put it in the cage. I don’t have fear of anybody.”

Born in Miami to an Italian father and a Panamanian mother, Pedersoli is a man of many nations. Even his nickname “Semento” comes from the Japanese word for cement, a moniker he acquired when he spent time training in The Land of the Rising Sun. Pedersoli was raised in Italy and primarily trains in Rome at the Gloria Fight Center, though he has also made stops at Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Dynamix MMA in Los Angeles.

Even as he’s garnered experience across the globe and claimed scalps in foreign lands, he keeps in his heart the goal of someday bringing a UFC show back to Rome. Pedersoli is the grandson of famous Italian actor Bud Spencer (whose real name was passed down to Pedersoli), which gave him instant notoriety when he decided to become a professional MMA fighter. With that level of recognition, a win over Oliveira could be all the cachet he needs to headline a show in Rome and get to play the conquering hero for once.

“Of course, yes, this is my dream. My opportunity,” said Pedersoli. “I want to make my country’s dream and if I win this fight it will all become true, so maybe I can bring the UFC to Italy. Maybe other Italians in the UFC, this is a dream and we have to make it a reality.”

That might sound like a 25-year-old fighter getting ahead of himself, but Pedersoli is used to having to prepare for events unfolding quickly. As a replacement for Neil Magny (who was moved from Saturday’s card to fight Santiago Ponzinibbio in November), he’s only had about a month to prepare for UFC Sao Paulo.

Still, that’s ages compared to his last two fights, which were also on short notice, and he’s confident he’s had enough of a camp to beat Oliveira.

“I prepared for Dalby in one week, I prepared for Scott in two weeks,” said Pedersoli. “So this is good to have one month. It’s like a full training camp for me.”

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