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Raoni Barcelos still down to fighting Said Nurmagomedov, but wonders why he withdrew from UFC 237

MMA: UFC 237- Barcelos vs Huachin
Raoni Barcelos improved to 3-0 with three finishes under the UFC banner.
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Raoni Barcelos doesn’t rule starting another training camp to fight Said Nurmagomedov.

The Brazilian bantamweight prospect improved to 3-0 under the UFC banner with another finish, stopping short-notice replacement Carlos Huachin with elbows at Saturday night’s UFC 237 in Brazil.

Huachin replaced Nurmagomedov on days’ notice, and Barcelos, who was also expected to face Nurmagomedov previously, still wonders why the Russian talent pulled out this time.

”I think that pulling out of a fight for major reasons, like an injury, any athlete will understand that,” Barcelos said after the win, “but nobody understood it this time. There was no answer, so it’s complicated. But if we meet down the line… I’m in this promotion to be the champion, so I want to fight the best.”

”When I signed the contract to fight Said I was thrilled,” he continued. “I said, ‘Man, I’m fighting a big name from Russia, a champion from many big promotions.’ So I had the chance to show myself, as a professional, that I could win. Not taking anything away from the guy I fought, Carlos, that has nothing to do with him — especially because he was a champion in Peru as well.”

Third time could be the charm for Barcelos and Nurmagomedov, and the Brazilian is open to getting invested in preparing for him one more time.

”I’m here to become champion,” Barcelos said. “If the UFC wants to match us up again, I will train again. And if something happens again and I fight someone else on five or 10 days’ notice, I’ll fight someone else.”

Barcelos admits that going from an orthodox opponent to a southpaw on such short notice “complicated” things during the bout, but is happy with the way the fight ended.

With a pair of second-round finishes since dropping back to bantamweight, Barcelos wants a big-name foe for his next appearance in the eight-sided cage.

”I’ll always be ready (for a top 15 opponent),” Barcelos said. “I think that my fight with Said, whoever won that, would have entered the top 15. I think it’s time for the UFC to put me against someone ranked. I’m not asking for any specific opponent, of course, I’ll always be ready to fight anyone the UFC puts against me.”

The Brazilian talent is still young in terms of in-cage experience, being 3-0 in the UFC and 14-1 overall in his professional MMA career, but he turned 32 two weeks before UFC 237 and has been competing in other sports, like jiu-jitsu and wrestling, for almost three decades.

Yet, he’s not in a rush to climb the ladder and attempt to win the bantamweight championship because of his age.

”One step at a time. I just climbed the third step. Bring the others,” Barcelos said. “I have no rush. I have to do a good job. By doing that, I’ll get there. I demand a lot from myself. When I go out (of a fight) I look at what I have to get better at. It’s difficult to reach perfection, no one gets there, but next time I’ll be better than now.”

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