Diego Lopes impressed in his UFC 288 debut, taking a fight with Movsar Evloev on five days’ notice and getting close to tapping the top-ranked featherweight with an armbar, kimura, and kneebar before ultimately losing a decision.
Speaking on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast just days after earning a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus as well as his win money despite losing the contest, Lopes said he always planned on “showing what we’re capable off” even on late notice.
“I told my coach and closest teammates that I would fight for the bonus every time I fought in the UFC, regardless of winning or losing,” Lopes said. “My goal was to neutralize his game and not let him control the fight and make sure to attack from bottom, and that’s what happened in the fight from the first to the last round. I was happy to be there. It felt like a dream come true. I wanted to win, of course, but sadly it wasn’t possible this time.”
Evloev had to work hard to escape multiple submission attempts and win on the scorecards (29-28, 29-28, 30-27), and Lopes jokes that the 17-0 featherweight didn’t tap “because he’s Russian.”
“We know these guys are tough, they don’t like to tap,” Lopes said with a laugh. “I had the experience of fighting a Russian in Russia in 2018 and it was the same thing. I had an armbar and kneebar locked and he didn’t tap. It was close. I knew there would be no easy fights in the UFC, especially against the No. 10 ranked guy. He won’t tap easily, he doesn’t want to lose his undefeated record. The only thing missing there for him to tap was him not being Russian.”
Having lived in Guadalajara, Mexico for eight years, Lopes plans to take some days off to visit his family in Manaus, Brazil, before looking to book his next bout. Lopes said he’s targeting a card in August or September, this time with a proper training camp.
And he would love face Evloev a second time in the future.
“We did a good job against him, so that’s the idea,” Lopes said of a potential rematch. “If it’s not for the title, maybe a fight before that. Let’s see what the future holds for us. We are the same age so we can keep winning in the division and I think we can meet again down the line, no problem.”