When the UFC decided to create a special version of the Contender Series dedicated to Brazilian fighters in 2018, many saw that as the perfect platform to impress Dana White and earn a contract with the promotion.
When that dream became a nightmare for multiple fighters, Wellington Turman refused to quit.
The middleweight, who hails from Curitiba, was one of the many fighters removed from the show due to visa issues last August. Afterwards, he wondered if he would ever have that chance again.
“They called me two weeks before the fight saying my visa was denied because it was a one-fight deal and they thought I would just live there and not come back to Brazil,” Turman told MMA Fighting. “It was really hard for me. I was almost on weight, I was ready to get the job done.”
The phone call from his coach crushed his heart, but some wise words brought him back up immediately.
“I was pissed, man. I went nuts. I lost my opportunity,” Turman said. “But then my coach told me, ‘You can either sit down and cry about it or continue training and believe in your dream. It’s up to you.’ I took a day off and went home to think, and I was back in the gym the next day to train. I knew it would happen, it was a matter of time.”
“I believe God knows the right time for everything,” Turman said. “Maybe I wasn’t ready then as I’m ready now, so that was something that happened to help me instead of f****** me up [laughs].”
A multi-fight deal with the UFC helped Turman receive his visa and travel to the United States. Flying overseas was one of his longtime dreams, and he’s finally done it. Visiting California was also one of his goals, so it’s kind of surreal that his UFC debut happens to be right there in Sacramento.
“I can’t wait to get in the cage and show my work,” said Turman, who added a pair of wins—including a first-round submission over TUF Brazil finalist Marcio Alexandre—since his cancelled Contender Series bout before signing with the UFC. “(Alexandre) replaced me on Contender Series and won the fight, and then I beat him, so I kind of won both fights [laughs].”
“I’m a better athlete now compared to what I was a year ago,” he continued. “Maybe I wasn’t ready back then. I have a better mind now, more focused and prepared, and I’m definitely ready to get in there and show what I can do.”
Seven years after taking a MMA class to lose weight and stop being so sedentary and falling in love with the sport, Turman is out to make a statement in Sacramento.
“Karl Roberson is a great athlete and a great striker,” Turman said. “He doesn’t have many MMA fights, but he fought at Glory and has more experience than me.
“Both of his losses were by submission and jiu-jitsu is my fighting style, but I’m going there to stand and bang with him. My strategy is to trade hands with him. I’ve seen many mistakes he makes on the feet and I’m evolving in that area, so I want to show the UFC that Wellington Turman is not only about jiu-jitsu, Wellington Turman can bang, too. I can put on a show on the feet. I will win the fight by first-round knockout.”