Augusto agreed to replace Romero on less than a week’s notice to face Johnson at Friday night’s Bellator 258 in Uncasville, Conn., and feels “extremely grateful” to have such opportunity just 10 fights into his professional MMA career.
That said, “Gugu” doesn’t view Johnson as this unstoppable force that has demolished some of the best light heavyweights in the UFC.
“I’m looking at this fight just like any other,” Augusto said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I think he’s stronger than me but I’ve fought stronger men before and I can do well in the fight. I’m more technical and faster than him, and I’m confident on the work I’ve been doing. Getting anxious or doubting myself means I don’t believe my team, and I believe them. I’ll do everything I can to get my hands raised in the end.”
Most of fans had no idea who Gugu was when news broke that he would be stepping in for Romero at Bellator 258. The Pitbull Brothers light heavyweight has only fought once under the Bellator banner, submitting Jonathan Wilson with an arm-triangle choke in one round a month ago.
Augusto doesn’t believe “Rumble” will overlook him though, nor does he expect the UFC veteran to feel rusty after four years away from MMA.
“I think he will try to come in and do what he always does, to go for the finish, and I’m expecting that just so I can do the same thing and land my strikes,” Augusto said. “I expect him to feel [my strikes]. He hasn’t fought in a long time and I’ve been fighting often, and I expect to take advantage of that rhythm.”
“He’s very strong,” he continued. “In my opinion, he has the most dangerous first round of this division. I think he will continue to come out strong like that and fans won’t even notice any difference from his time away, but, like I said, I believe I’m faster and more versatile and I will dominate the distance, score points and slowly hurt him.
“I see two difference scenarios when I meditate. First, he comes in with everything he’s got and I counter and he goes down. The other one, I submit him. I believe in my hand and my jiu-jitsu. Squeeze his neck, choke him out, attack his foot or something like that.”
To step in on short notice and upset Johnson to advance in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix would be a fairytale story for an unknown Brazilian, much like when Daniel Cormier replaced Alistair Overeem in the Strikeforce grand prix to win the tournament and make a name for himself in MMA.
“I hope so,” Augusto said with a laugh. “I’ve always dreamed with something like this but never thought it could happen so fast. God’s plans are so wonderful. I don’t know how this fight will play out, we both like to stand and trade, he’s strong and has good wrestling and I believe my jiu-jitsu is better than his.
“I have the tools to win this fight and the hunger to impose my game on him. Saying this is a bit complicated but I believe I’m hungrier than him. Being here is my dream, and I don’t know if it’s his dream. He has conquered so many things already, but I think I want this win more than him.”