Jailton Almeida’s next steps in the UFC are meticulously planned.
The Brazilian talent enters the octagon Saturday night in Las Vegas to face short notice replacement Anton Turkalj in a 220-pound catchweight at UFC 279, and already asked company matchmaker Mick Maynard to set up his next fight in Rio de Janeiro against his original opponent Shamil Abdurakhimov. UFC 283 is scheduled for Jan. 21 at Rio’s Jeunesse Arena.
“We’re going to stay at heavyweight moving forward,” Almeida said on this week’s episode of Trocação Franca, ruling out a return to 205 pounds any time soon. “I want to fight in Rio de Janeiro against Shamil. I hope he get his visa situation sorted and we can fight at home and bring joy to the Brazilian people.”
Almeida joined the UFC in 2021 after stopping Nasrudin Nasrudinov at Dana White’s Contender Series and made short work of light heavyweight veteran Danilo Marques months later. “Malhadinho” moved up to heavyweight immediately after and walked through Parker Porter in one round this past May, setting up the Abdurakhimov bout.
With fellow DWCS veteran Turkalj as his new opponent in Las Vegas, Almeida was forced to adapt a few things in training ahead of UFC 279.
“Anton’s style is like mine, but he leaves way too many holes in his positions,” Almeida said. “He doesn’t go for submissions at all, he just wants to stay there and buy some time, but he leaves openings I would have been able to escape. We’re ready to go there and get the job done. … Since he likes to stay on the ground a lot, I think [I’ll win] by submission with an arm-triangle choke.”
Even though the Brazilian went from facing a top-14 ranked heavyweight to welcoming a promotional newcomer, Almeida doesn’t feel he has nothing to gain Saturday. In fact, “Malhadinho” feels all the pressure falls over Turkalj.
“We were planning on getting at UFC [283 in] Rio already ranked but that [change] happened,” he said. “The responsibility is all his because I’m already in the UFC regardless, but I’m always going for the victory no matter what. I’m experienced in the UFC, but I’m still going all in for it.”