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Cristiano Marcello urges UFC to sign proteges: ‘We’re the best MMA team in Brazil’

Cristiano Marcello (center) hopes to have more fighters under the UFC banner in 2020.
Julio Bomfim, Future MMA

Former UFC fighter Cristiano Marcello wants to see more of his proteges competing inside the Octagon in 2020.

The CM System head coach and founder currently has only one fighter under the UFC banner, 33-year-old welterweight Elizeu Zaleski, and he is urging matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard to take a look at his stable in Curitiba, Brazil, the next time they need athletes from any weight class.

“I’m a bit biased, but we are the best MMA team in Brazil today,” Marcello told MMA Fighting. “We’re fighting and winning everywhere.”

CM System currently holds Shooto Brazil flyweight gold with Edilceu Alves (11-2) and a pair of championship belts at Future MMA, with Luis Cado (14-6-1, welterweight) and Matheus Scheffel (14-6, light heavyweight).

The team is currently scheduled to challenge for more belts next month, with The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4 alum Adilson Fernandes (15-5) taking on Bellator veteran Gleristone Santos for the inaugural Future MMA 155-pound title on Dec. 6, and Daniel Pereira battling Chad Hanekom for the Brave CF middleweight throne the next day in South Africa.

Luan Santiago (15-4), who claimed the Brave CF lightweight title earlier this year, was victorious in his welterweight debut on Nov. 15 in Bahrain.

“We have titles in the biggest organizations in South America and at Brave, but we only have one fighter in the UFC,” Marcello said. “The quality that we deliver in our fights is second to none. There’s no other team in Brazil with better prospects and more wins than us. That’s a fact.”

Marcello is expecting to see Zaleski back in the Octagon at the upcoming UFC Brasilia event on March 14, and asks for a chance to have two other athletes making their promotional debuts that night as well.

The UFC and PRIDE veteran is focused on his life as a coach now and he has postponed his return from retirement under the Brave CF banner. Marcello was targeting a fight in December, but has so many championship bouts scheduled that he was forced to push it back to 2020.

“I can’t stop for a two-month camp now, but I haven’t changed my mind,” said Marcello, who hasn’t fought since a decision loss to Joe Proctor in his final UFC bout in Feb. 2014. “I’m training and staying in shape. I will turn 42 in December but I’m still a kid [laughs].”

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