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Lucas Almeida of Brazil reacts after his knockout of Michael Trizano in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 04, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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Lucas Almeida Welcomes The Journey

UFC Featherweight Lucas Almeida Isn't Concerned With The Bumps In The Road, He's Just Dialed In On Winning In His Sophomore Appearance At UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs Cannonier.

Reaching the UFC stage and arriving at the point that he’s poised to make his second walk to the Octagon has been a long journey for Lucas Almeida.

The Brazilian featherweight competed on Season 5 of Dana White’s Contender Series, landing on the wrong side of a decision loss to then-unbeaten Mexican prospect Daniel Zellhuber in a competitive, entertaining fight. He returned to Brazil, successfully defending his Jungle Fight featherweight title, and then received the call to the Octagon seven months later, registering a third-round knockout win over Mike Trizano.

“It meant that I overcame a lot of obstacles,” Almeida said when asked about his debut appearance last year. “I was extremely happy that I was able to defeat a former TUF champion who had never been knocked out before and also felt accomplished for performing all the techniques that I had trained so hard. Mission accomplished.”

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Since then, however, it’s been an adventure getting to this weekend’s sophomore appearance against Pat Sabatini.

He was scheduled to compete last October in Abu Dhabi against Zubaira Tukhugov, but the fight was scuttled when the Russian veteran dealt with complications during his weight cut and was forced to withdraw.

Lucas Almeida of Brazil reacts after his knockout of Michael Trizano in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 04, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Lucas Almeida of Brazil reacts after his knockout of Michael Trizano in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 04, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

A fight against Andre Fili was booked for February, only for the Team Alpha Male fighter to suffer an eye injury, prompting the cancellation of that bout, as well. A third bout with Hakeem Dawodu was penciled in for last weekend’s fight card in Vancouver, but the Canadian featherweight was forced to pull out, resulting in Almeida being shuffled back to this weekend’s contest with Sabatini.

Through it all, the 32-year-old had faith that everything would work out.

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“I believe God has a plan,” began Almeida, who carries a 14-1 record into Saturday’s contest. “I was ready in Abu Dhabi and I made weight; it was not my fault, therefore I was not concerned. 

“I did sustain an injury prior to my competition which was supposed to be held in February and my opponent sustained an injury, as well, so I viewed it as something that was not meant to be.”

Lucas Almeida of Brazil punches Michael Trizano in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 04, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Lucas Almeida of Brazil punches Michael Trizano in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 04, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

While he’s missed out on the opportunity to step into the Octagon a couple times in the last year, Almeida has made the most of his time out of action, using the last 12 months to hone his craft, sharpen his skills, and elevate his game.

“As I mentioned previously, I truly believe God has a plan and everything happens for a reason,” he said when asked if there were stretches when he felt snakebitten as opponents kept falling out.

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“I am always training hard and focused,” continued Almeida, who has earned each of his 14 career wins inside the distance. “I have been assisted by the same coaches who prepared me for my first fight; we have a great team.”

Being this early in his UFC journey and shuffling through opponents means that Almeida wasn’t particular familiar with the man he’ll share the cage with this weekend, but once they were booked, the Brazilian dove into the footage of Sabatini and didn’t see anything that particularly worries him about the matchup.

“I didn’t know anything about him before they scheduled the fight,” Almeida said of Sabatini, who posted victories in each of his first four appearances under the UFC banner following an outstanding career on the rugged East Coast regional circuit. “He is a good jiu jitsu fighter, however I am black belt jiu jitsu fighter, and I have participated in several jiu jitsu tournaments.

Lucas Almeida of Brazil punches Michael Trizano in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 04, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Lucas Almeida of Brazil punches Michael Trizano in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 04, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“I have nothing to worry about,” continued the confident sophomore. “I have a very offensive fighting style and I will be trying to win the fight all the time.

“I believe Pat Sabatini hasn’t faced an opponent who has the same fighting style as me. He will have a hard time.”

After experiencing heartbreak in Las Vegas with his loss to Zellhuber on the Contender Series, it has been nothing but smiles and stoppages for Almeida since.

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He returned to his native Brazil, successfully defended his title and got the call every fighter dreams to receive. In his UFC debut, he went shot-for-shot with a former Ultimate Fighter winner for 10 minutes before dispatching him less than a minute into the third round, collecting a Fight of the Night bonus for his efforts.

And now, after a lengthy wait where three different matchups went by the boards, the aggressive featherweight finally gets to return to action this weekend, and he fully expects things to walk out of the Octagon with another victory in tow and even bigger things on the horizon.

“My second victory will be amazing; I have been looking forward to my return,” he stated, looking forward to Saturday. “I will continue my journey in the MMA world, which has been extremely successful so far, and I am sure that it will be even more successful in the UFC.”

UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs Cannonier took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas on June 17, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass