A longtime veteran of the game with 33 professional fights across multiple weight classes, 42-year-old Francisco Trinaldo sees his UFC Vegas 28 bout on Saturday night as the beginning of a new journey.
Nine years after joining the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 1 as a middleweight and scoring big wins over the likes of Paul Felder, Jim Miller, Yancy Medeiros and Evan Dunham at 155 pounds, “Massaranduba” makes his welterweight debut opposite Muslim Salikhov at the UFC APEX on Saturday.
“I’m looking at this fight as a re-debut in the UFC,” Trinaldo said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “An experienced guy debuting again in the UFC. I’m ready to fight anyone in this division.”
Trinaldo made the call to jump up in weight after a rough cut in July 2020. It was the first time he missed weight in 15 years as a professional MMA fighter. Trinaldo stopped Jai Herbert by third-round TKO that morning in Abu Dhabi, extending his winning streak to three, and he now he feels healthier at 170 pounds.
Unlike in the past, Trinaldo said he’s now able to actually engage in combat training during fight week. His diet has changed as well, with Massaranduba adding red meat and carbs and not holding back in practice to “save energy.”
That said, Trinaldo doesn’t regret not making the move earlier “because I’ve done good fights at 155 and I’m sure I’ll perform even better at 170.”
“Everyone will be stunned by how I’ll perform on the 5th,” said Trinaldo, who vows to impress against 17-2 Russian striker Salikhov. “He’s a great fighter, but he doesn’t like to get touched, and I’ll touch him hard. He’s a tough fight for anyone at 170, but I’m a tough fight as well.
“He won’t come in expecting an easy fight because there are no easy fights with me. I can fight a heavyweight and I’m sure I won’t give any of them an easy fight.”
Also known as “King of Kung Fu,” Salikhov won his past four in the UFC against the likes of Elizeu Zaleski and Nordine Taleb. Both of his defeats have come via submission, while Trinaldo’s 26-7 record includes five submissions and nine knockouts.
“I’ve trained to finish him, but I’m ready to go hard for three rounds,” he said. “Let’s see if he can take my pressure. My head is prepared for three rounds of war.”
Trinaldo hopes to make noise right off the bat in his first welterweight showdown, but has moved on from the idea of facing Donald Cerrone, he said, “because he doesn’t want to fight me.” The Brazilian fighter said he volunteered to replace Diego Sanchez against “Cowboy” this past May, but claims Cerrone turned it down before “getting beat up” by Alex Morono.
The American Top Team welterweight already has a name in mind for his post-fight callout, but said fans will have to tune in Saturday to hear it.
“I know it’s a fight fans would love to see and I’ll sure he will accept,” Trinaldo said. “We will put on a great fight.”