Wendell Giacomo will be across the cage for Paul Daley’s retirement fight at Friday’s Bellator 281 in London, replacing former champion Andrey Koreshkov, and hopes to spoil the party at the SSE Arena.
Giacomo, 27, admits he was “surprised” when the phone rang with an offer to face “one of the world’s best fighters” in Europe. The 9-2 welterweight was scheduled to compete on the same date in Rio de Janeiro, but opted to withdraw from the LFA card to embark on his first mission overseas.
A teammate of Bellator champions Patricio Pitbull and Patricky Pitbull in Natal, Giacomo made it to the final of the LFA one-night grand prix in July 2021, but couldn’t re-enter the cage to fight for the belt due to a cut. Finally “100 percent” after a broken hand forced him out of a previous LFA show in March, Giasomo sees it as “destiny” giving him a bigger platform to shine.
“Every fighter in Brazil dreams with a chance in an international promotion so they can have a better life,” Giacomo said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca. “And to debut against a legend of the sport, that only motivates me more.”
“Many athletes think too little of themselves, that they can’t do it. I know what I’m capable of. I look up to great fighters I have inside the gym and I know my potential. He’s very tough, but I know the danger I bring as well.”
With 11 professional bouts under his belt, Giacomo still can’t afford to be a full-time MMA fighter. After moving from his hometown of Salgueiro to Natal to train at Pitbull Brothers, he worked as a pizza chef and security guard, as well as teaching muay thai classes, to make ends meet.
“The life of a MMA fighter in the Brazilian circuit is a struggle, promotions don’t pay good purse, and it’s hard to pay bills,” Giacomo said. “I plan on focusing 100 percent in my career as an athlete now that I’m having this opportunity [in Bellator].”
Giacomo is set to get paid a lot more at Bellator 281 compared to his purses in the Brazilian circuit, and expects to double it with an impressive victory. Daley has beaten the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Lorenz Larkin, Erick Silva, Martin Kampmann, Duane Ludwig and Daniel Weichel across 63 professional MMA bouts, but Giacomo claims he has “many different ways to beat Paul.”
“He’s a very experienced fighter so we have to follow out strategy closely,” Giacomo said. “We’re going to fight MMA but the fight starts on the feet. I’ll do a bit of everything. People say Paul Daley is an excellent kickboxer with many knockouts in his career, but I have good strikers in the gym. We look at martial arts as a science. Patricio and Patricky are proof of that. I have good weapons to show him both on the feet and on the ground. I’ll bring this victory home.”