Argentina’s Laureano Staropoli only has to look across the gym to find that championship motivation.
“Pepi” Staropoli, who lives in Sao Paulo, trains under the same roof as UFC lightweight titleholder Charles Oliveira at Chute Boxe. He admits he became emotional watching his friend stop Michael Chandler in dramatic fashion in May to collect the UFC belt in Houston.
“He motivates me,” Staropoli said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I’m Chute Boxe, I’m friends with Charles, I’m always training with him, and that motivates me. It’s our time now, it’s Chute Boxe time. It’s time to raise our flags and secure more wins and many good things for us.”
Staropoli re-enters the eight-sided cage this Saturday against Roman Dolidze at UFC Vegas 28, making his middleweight debut after dropping two fights in a row to Muslim Salikhov and Tim Means at 170 pounds.
Unlike in his previous UFC appearances, Staropoli has done his entire training camp in Argentina, working with his first MMA coach before getting the short-notice call to replace Alessio Di Chirico. Chute Boxe’s Diego Lima and Jorge Patino will corner him in Las Vegas, and Staropoli hopes it’s the beginning of a journey that leads to the middleweight throne.
“I’m working hard every single day for that, to make that happen,” Staropoli said. “To become the first Argentinian champion and bring the belt to Chute Boxe — not only for Argentina but also to Brazil. Brazil is my home today. I have brothers and friends in Brazil, I have everything there. It feels great to be followed by all of them. It’s an honor for me to represent Brazil as well.”
Staropoli has competed as a middleweight in the past, back when he worked full-time as a cop in Argentina and didn’t have proper time to train and work on a diet to cut down to 170. He says he has gained too much muscle mass over the past few years, after quitting his job and moving to Brazil, and “it was getting hard for me to make 170.”
“My natural weight is 205, and dropping to 170 was too much,” Staropoli said. “I’ll get to this weight way healthier, I won’t cut too much weight. It will be a restart in the UFC. Now I feel I’ll be able to be successful in my career.”
Dolidze holds a professional record of 8-1 with a pair of octagon victories, but dropped a decision to Trevin Giles in his most recent appearance in March. That bout also marked Dolidze’s first fight at 185 pounds.
Staropoli predicts he will end this fight in violent fashion.
“Brother, I dream about this fight every single day, and we’re going to brawl,” Staropoli said. “I’ll rip his head off. I’ll knock him out. I know that. I know that, and I know God is with me and this fight will be mine.”