In the end, American Top Team coach Marcos “Parrumpinha” DaMatta won’t miss all the “Fight Island” cards.
The jiu-jitsu trainer wasn’t able to hop on the first UFC chartered flight that left Las Vegas to Abu Dhabi last week after testing positive for COVID-19. “Parrumpinha” was hoping to test negative in time to be cleared to travel to Abu Dhabi to corner his proteges, and was granted his wish after a recent test result came back negative.
“Everyone sent messages of support, they were worried about me, so I wanted to thank everyone,” DaMatta told MMA Fighting on Friday. “I’m grateful and happy to have tested negative and be able to travel to ‘Fight Island’ and help the American Top Team athletes.”
“Parrumpinha’s” first mission in Abu Dhabi would possibly be to corner Amanda Ribas against Paige VanZant on UFC 251, which takes place July 11. DaMatta will land in the United Arab Emirates approximately seven hours before Ribas is set to enter the cage at Flash Forum and it's unlikely that he would be allowed to skip the 48-hour quarantine upon arrival since he had COVID-19 before and recently tested negative.
“Amanda Ribas did her entire camp in her home town Varginha but we trained together online every day through FaceTime, and she had a great training camp,” DaMatta said. “We were able to fix some mistakes she did in her last fight with Randa Markos, and also in the Mackenzie (Dern) fight.
“I think Amanda is better than Paige in every aspect of the fight, everywhere, but Paige is an unpredictable fighter, so we have out strategy prepared and I 100 percent believe that Amanda will come out victorious. I’d be happy to be there to help her, but we’ll see.”
A week later, on July 18, DaMatta will corner top-ranked flyweight Alexandre Pantoja opposite Askar Askarov, and then coach lightweight Arman Tsarukyan as he takes on Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Davi Ramos on the final Abu Dhabi show on July 25.
There’s a chance Pantoja ends up in a title fight Joseph Benavidez, though. The flyweight told MMA Fighting recently that he was a backup fighter in case something happened to either Deiveson Figueiredo or Benavidez in the main event, and “Deus da Guerra” could be forced out of the card due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“Pantoja is on the best phase of his career and had a wonderful camp,” DaMatta said. “He’s ready to go five rounds if he needs to. He’s ready to step in and fight for the belt. Askarov is a tough and experienced opponent, but Pantoja is better than him. If God gives us this gift, this title fight, he’s ready.”
“Arman has a high-level wrestling,” he continued, “and his striking has gotten better — he’s not a supreme striker, but he can do well on the feet. It’s a tough fight for both because Davi Ramos is excellent in everything, but I think Arman has something more to steal this victory.”