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Diego Ferreira done with short-notice fights, wants top 5 status by end of 2022

Diego Ferreira
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Diego Ferreira wants to leave his weight issues in the past.

The experienced lightweight is on an uncomfortable two-fight skid going into his third UFC bout of 2021, looking to bounce from defeats to Beneil Dariush and Gregor Gillespie as he faces Mateusz Gamrot at Saturday night’s UFC Vegas 45. This time, he promises to have no hiccups at the official weigh-ins on Friday.

“I’m focused and centered on this since my last fight and thank God I’m feeling really well,” Ferreira said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “The UFC [Performance Institute] is assisting me in every step of the way and I’m feeling great. The weight cut is going to be easy. I’m feeling normal, it doesn’t even feel like I’m cutting weight.”

Ferreira, who turns 37 in January, came in four-and-a-half pounds overweight for the Gillespie bout, his second weight miss under the UFC banner, and has two possible explanations for it.

“I think it was because I took the fight on three-weeks’ notice,” said Ferreira, who promised to never accept short-notice bouts again. “I was cutting weight well, but I think the fact I took the COVID vaccine affected me during my camp. I was feeling fine and got to fight week at 164 [pounds], but the weight stopped dropping when I reached 160. I spent two hours working and it just wouldn’t drop.

“I think that hurt my body, I couldn’t sleep at night, I couldn’t relax. That really affected me. I don’t know if it was the COVID-19 vaccine or the fact I took the fight on short notice. It didn’t go according to the plan in the end. But I’ll focus on the future and think about the December 18 fight.”

Gamrot is 19-1 with one no-contest in MMA going into UFC Vegas 45, having won six fights by knockout and five via submission. The former KSW lightweight titleholder “is a very good fighter, a complete fighter,” Ferreira said, but could face his first stoppage loss in MMA at the UFC APEX.

“He’s on a winning streak and I must be alert with his takedowns and work with my counters,” Ferreira said. “I want a submission. If Plan A doesn’t work there’s always Plan B, but I want to take him to the ground and use my jiu-jitsu again.”

A jiu-jitsu specialist with seven submissions to his credit in the sport, including a rear-naked choke finish against former UFC and WEC champion Anthony Pettis in 2020, Ferreira believes he needs to get “at least four wins” to enter the top 5 of the division, and hopes it happens by the end of 2022.

“I think I need to do something more to get where I want,” he said. “I won’t miss any opportunity against higher ranked opponents.”