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Felipe dos Santos details wild turn of events that led to short-notice UFC 293 debut against Manel Kape

MMA: AUG 21 Dana White Contender Series
Felipe dos Santos
Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Felipe Santos went from competing for a contract at Dana White’s Contender Series in Las Vegas to facing top-ranked Manel Kape in Sydney at UFC 293 within a span of two weeks, and the insane roller-coaster of emotions feels just right for the Chute Boxe talent.

“Lipe Detona,” a nickname inspired by the animated comedy film Wreck-It Ralph, made weight for his bout with Luciano Pereira at the UFC APEX but saw his opponent fail to come under the limit. After returning to his hotel room and dealing with the frustration of seeing his dream vanish before his eyes, dos Santos had a pleasant surprise a few hours later, when a concussion knocked Kai Kara-France off his UFC 293 clash with Kape on Sept. 9.

“I felt lost when that happened,” dos Santos said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast while appearing on behalf of Roobet. “I thought, ‘Damn, I lost the opportunity of my life.’ But I remained calm because I knew good things would happen.”

Dos Santos said that after the Kara-Franca news broke, he joked with his manager and coach Diego Lima that he would “love to visit Australia one day.” A few moments later, while still recovering from his cut to 125 pounds, he said the UFC sent him an official email with the offer to fight Kape.

“It took a while for the penny to drop — and once it did, man, I cried a lot,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much in my entire life. I spent 30 minutes crying non-stop, and then I started calling every Chute Boxe fighter.”

At 7-0-1 as a professional since 2019, the unbeaten Brazilian makes his way to the octagon to battle a former RIZIN 135-pound champion who’s beaten flyweights Ode Osbourne, Zhalgas Zhumagulov, and David Dvorak going into UFC 293. Dos Santos is the underdog in Sydney, but feels an advantage having the Chute Boxe crew behind him.

“[Chute Boxe] helps me a lot because of all the mental work we do and everything we have to overcome in life,” he said. “We have so many athletes there that aren’t intimidated by anything and can work under pressure. It makes me calm that I get to receive their advice and train with them. I’ve been through difficulties in life and I’m OK now because I know [Kape] will come hard, but I’ll fire back the same way. Whoever wants the most will win.”

“Lipe Detona” said he has “worked my entire life for this opportunity,” and hopes to impress UFC president Dana White in Australia and bring the victory back to Brazil.

“You can bet on a knockout,” said dos Santos, who’s finished five of his seven MMA wins. “I believe I’ll knock him out with a kick. I’ve been training that a lot and if that’s God’s will, it’s going to be a knockout. I’ve been doing a good job on the ground as well, so I have a submission ready too.”

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