clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

‘Frustrated’ by Dana White snub, champ Bruno Machado asks UAE Warriors to line up UFC vets

Bruno Machado is 5-0 since moving to the United Arab Emirates, wining the UAE Warriors belt.
Photo via Bruno Machado

Abu Dhabi-based lightweight Bruno Machado was hoping to impress UFC President Dana White and ink a deal in January, but it didn’t go as planned.

The UAE Warriors titleholder was victorious that night in Jan. 15, defeating octagon veteran Mickael Lebout via decision in Abu Dhabi. When he looked outside the cage to send a message to the head of the company, White was nowhere to be found.

UAE Warriors 15 was the event where White had his long-awaited meeting with Khabib Nurmagomedov during the most recent series of Fight Island shows. The UFC exec signed a couple of talents that night, but Machado wasn’t one of them.

“By the time I got in there to fight, [White] wasn’t around the cage there anymore,” Machado told MMA Fighting. “I believe he went there knowing which weight classes he was looking to sign fighters for, and he had already left with two fighters by the time I fought.

“He didn’t even watch my fight. When my fight was over, I looked around and couldn’t find him. Truth is, I think the only reason he went there was to talk to Khabib.”

Machado put his lightweight title on the line against Lebout. But the French athlete, who fought three times under the UFC banner in 2015, missed weight by six pounds. Machado agreed to a three-round catchweight instead because he wanted to compete in front of White.

“If you watch the fight, [Lebout] had more than 30 fights and a 20-10 record, and I made him look like a beginner,” Machado said. “I dominated him from start to finish. I don’t think he would have gone past the fourth round. It was a bit frustrating for me that [White] hasn’t watch it, but it’s OK.”

The 34-year-old has now won nine of his past 10 with seven stoppages, an amazing comeback compared to his early days in the sport. Machado said he has been naive and has fallen into traps in his first years as a fighter, which culminated in a 6-7 MMA record in 2011.

“Caveira” joined Team Nogueira shortly after that, living in the training center in Rio de Janeiro until former UFC champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira needed someone to travel to Dubai and explain the team’s methodology to the owners of the new branch in the United Arab Emirates.

Machado moved full-time to Dubai in 2013 before transferring to Abu Dhabi years later, teaching jiu-jitsu to the local army. With a son born in Abu Dhabi and a five straight wins in the U.A.E., the 155-pounder believes he can finally fulfill his true potential.

“I have way better training here compared to when I lived in Brazil,” he said. “I can’t help but think of all those talented people in that gym that unfortunately couldn’t continue. If all those kids had this opportunity, we would have way more MMA champions today.

“I was living in a gym and working every day, teaching jiu-jitsu in two different gyms and making R$ 600 (US$ 100) by the end of the month. My salary is way better now. I can focus on training and living the life of an athlete.”

Machado hasn’t given up on his hopes of signing with the UFC yet. A jiu-jitsu coach of the Abu Dhabi forces, “Caveira” is confident that UFC’s tight relationship with the local government could lead to a chance in a future Fight Island show.

Meanwhile, Machado wants UAE Warriors to line up octagon veterans so he can prove his worth.

“That’s my goal,” he said. “I want to keep this belt and, if possible, continue to score wins over former UFC fighters until I get that chance. I’ll make the most of my chance and prove my worth. I’ll call for the toughest opponents.”

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting