With Jones set to battle Ciryl Gane for the vacant title at UFC 285 on March 4, three years after Jones’ last defense of the 205-pound championship over Dominick Reyes, Almeida sees stars aligning as he decides to make heavyweight home following light heavyweight and heavyweight wins inside the octagon.
“Many people come to me and say, ‘Man, did you see that Jon Jones is a heavyweight now, and you’re a heavyweight?’ I know that. ‘Imagine booking you and Jon Jones?’ Boy, I’m ready,” Almeida said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca. “I’m a UFC fighter, I’m a UFC employee. I’m a big Jon Jones fan, everybody knows that, so it will be a dream come true to fight Jon Jones at heavyweight. I’m ready for anything.”
Almeida have always complained about lack of competition in Brazil, claiming few fighters were willing to enter a cage against such a promising prospect in the regional scene. The scenario hasn’t change much in the UFC, he said, after wins over Danilo Marques, Parker Porter and Anton Turkalj.
“It’s frustrating to train for a fight and it fells through and no one wants to step in,” said Almeida, who meets Shamil Abdurakhimov at UFC 283 this Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “I went through that in Brazil and thought it would be different in the UFC, that people would be willing to, but the same thing has happened again.
“Those in the ranking don’t want to fight someone that’s pretty much nothing in the UFC yet, they don’t want to take risks. They’re right, they want to stay ranked and maybe fight someone around them instead of someone who has only fought three times in the UFC. Who wants to take risks? Nobody wants to take risks, and it’s their right.”
“Malhadinho” wants a “slow” rise to the top, but expects to be listed as one of the five best heavyweights in the UFC by the end of the year — and thinks “Bones” Jones will be holding the title by the time he earns his shot at the throne down the line.
“We saw after the Potter fight that staying at heavyweight would be way better for us to get to the ranking and to the belt quicker, especially with the style I have,” Almeida said. “The division is shallow and doesn’t have many Brazilians. I’ll stay at heavyweight. I fight well at 233 pounds, with the power of a 275-pounder.”