Jailton Almeida hopes he gets his chance to face Jon Jones for the UFC heavyweight gold before the legendary champion hangs up his gloves for good.
“Malhadinho” is looking unstoppable in the UFC, running through Shamil Abdurakhimov in his most recent appearance to go 4-0 with four stoppages under the company’s banner, while outstriking his opponents 110-2 through four matches combined.
Almeida faces Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the main event of UFC Charlotte this Saturday, which airs live on ABC, and knows that a win could put him in the conversation for a No. 1 contender bout.
“I’ll leave that up to the UFC matchmaker,” Almeida said on this week’s episode of Trocação Franca. “If he sees I have the possibility of fighting for the belt, I have to get ready for that. If he says I need to fight one more time, I’ll be ready for that as well.”
Jones claimed the UFC heavyweight title earlier this year by submitting Ciryl Gane in just one round, and he has teased a potential retirement from the sport if victorious in an expected bout against former champion Stipe Miocic later this year.
“I hope he stays,” Almeida said of “Bones” Jones. “I hope he beats Miocic and said, ‘I’ll do one more fight. Put me against anyone.’ It would be very satisfying if they put me there. It’s like completing the game. Fighting and beating the all-time best.”
“This fight would be very difficult for me,” he continued. “Jon Jones is a complete fighter, everybody knows that. He’s very versatile in everything he does. I’d let things go and focus on his weak spots to catch him. Study the fight early on and try to do my thing to finish the fight.”
Almeida stays focused on Rozenstruik first, though.
The Surinamese heavyweight stopped Chris Daukaus in just 23 seconds this past December, his third time finishing an opponent in under 30 seconds in the octagon.
“Jairzinho is extremely dangerous, everybody knows that. It won’t be an easy fight,” Almeida said. “He wants to get to the title, too. He’s very dangerous on the feet, has heavy hands. When he touches you, you go down, but looking at his losses and at the fights he almost lost — [Alistair] Overeem took him down, Ciryl Gane and Curtis Blaydes also took him down, but they weren’t able to submit him, and that’s my thing, to take you down and work on a submission or a technical knockout.
“The worst aspect of his game is his takedown defense. It’s not good. I have to be careful with his hands. If he goes down once, he’s not going back up. I know that. He’ll only get back up when the referee stops the fight.”
Rozenstruik has been promoting this match-up on social media as the “Fourth Battle of Amazonia,” referring to his knockout wins over Brazilian heavyweights Junior dos Santos, Augusto Sakai and Junior Albini. The thing about those fights, according to Almeida, is that all three were “scared” of Rozenstruik’s power.
“[Rozenstruik] didn’t post anything before the Daukaus fight. You see he’s nervous, he’s posting a lot of things about me,” Almeida said. “He posted me on a train with him waiting, he posted that [about Amazonia]. He posted videos of him knocking people out to show he has knockout power. I don’t provoke [opponents], but when that cage closes I transform into a whole other person and I want to show my work.
“He wants to promote the fight. You see the entire promotion is on me and he wants to somehow promote this fight. He might be pissed or angry that he’s in the UFC for a long time and they never did anything like that for him. He thinks he’s getting inside my head but he won’t be able to. My head is bulletproof.”