After running through light heavyweights Nasrudin Nasrudinov and Danilo Marques in his two octagon appearances under the Contender Series and UFC banners, Jailton Almeida now faces a different challenge this Saturday at UFC Vegas 55.
With Maxim Grishin sidelined due to undisclosed reasons, “Malhadinho” agreed to move up a division and face heavyweight Parker Porter instead on May 21, and said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca that he’s more than comfortable competing in both weight classes.
“Even though it’s at heavyweight, I’m cool,” Almeida said. “I didn’t gain much weight. I’m at my natural weight, 227 pounds. I worked more on my speed since you lose a bit of speed [at heavyweight], but have more strength. … I was fine at 205, but can do it at heavyweight, too.”
“I was talking to my coaches and my manager here, [Grishin] fights like Carlos ‘Boi’ [Felipe], a brawler that goes to war,” he continued. “He’s a heavyweight that doesn’t get tired doing his thing. But I’m very versatile in the grappling area.”
Almeida has always sparred with heavyweights prior to his light heavyweight bouts, so he believes he won’t feel much different when he stands with Porter in Las Vegas.
Undefeated in heavyweight bouts in Brazil, “Malhadinho” doesn’t rule out staying in the division going forward.
“We’ll study after this fight and see how it goes,” Almeida said. “If I do well, I’ll study if we’ll continue at heavyweight or go back down to 205. … The heavyweight division really is more shallow. It’s easier for you to get to the belt. And with the game I have, there’s no other athlete with the style I have.”
Almeida predicts he will finish Porter in under 10 minutes at the UFC APEX, stopping him with ground-and-pound “or submitting him if he gives me an opening.”
Doing what he calls “the Khabib game,” an aggressive game inspired by former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, “with takedowns and always going for the finish,” “Malhadinho” believes he’s a horrible matchup for a lot of fighters at heavyweight.
Even Francis Ngannou, the man that currently sits at the UFC heavyweight throne?
“I would. I think I would,” Almeida said. “Even though he’s very dangerous on the feet, I would be a little bit.”