Back in May 2021, Jose Augusto stepped into the Bellator light heavyweight tournament as a late replacement against Anthony Johnson and rocked the two-time UFC title contender before eventually losing in the second round.
Finally set to return to the cage at Bellator 276 after nearly a year away, “Gugu” said he won’t go out of his way to pursue a rematch with Johnson — for now.
“There’s no bitter taste [from that loss],” Augusto told MMA Fighting ahead of Saturday’s clash with Alex Polizzi in St. Louis. “I have no regrets about that fight. Quite the opposite, really. It was the first fight I felt truly valued financially. It was a nice purse, and fighting a guy like Anthony Johnson was an honor. I watched his fights and cheered for him, and it was fun to fight him.
“If it happens that we fight again, cool, cool, but I wasn’t left with a bitter taste. Quite the opposite. I admire him even more. If he comes back to fighting and gets the title, who knows. It would be nice.”
Augusto won’t make the same amount of money he was paid for the grand prix bout when he faces Polizzi this Saturday, but is still “very happy” about his compensation.
A hand injury he suffered against “Rumble” forced him to stay on the sidelines for longer than expected, and Augusto ended up gaining way too much weight.
“I was way too out of shape, but it’s alright now,” Augusto laughed, revealing he reached 255 pounds during his time off — 22 pounds heavier than usual. The Brazilian fighter often competed as a heavyweight in his native country before joining Bellator in 2021.
“[Fighting at heavyweight] was always a good option for me because I love to eat, and in my mind, 205-pounders and heavyweights have knockout power, but heavyweights usually aren’t that skilled. I found it safer and felt happier [at heavyweight], even if they hit harder, because I relied on my speed and skill.”
Polizzi, a former LFA light heavyweight titleholder who has gone 3-1 so far in Bellator highlighted by a victory over ex-champion Rafael Carvalho in his debut, has only lost once in MMA. However, Augusto doesn’t see a lot of “surprises” coming his way at Bellator 276.
“He comes to scramble and grapple and I like to trade on the feet and always try to hurt [my opponent],” he said. “I see the fight going two ways: If he can impose his rhythm, he’ll win the fight, but I don’t see him knocking me out. Maybe a submission, I don’t know. But if I can impose my rhythm, he won’t even touch me. It’s down to who wants it more.”