Seconds after watching his longtime teacher fall to Matt Hughes at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, Ricardo Almeida jumped into action. Refusing to let the moment slip by, Almeida quickly cornered UFC matchmaker Joe Silva as soon as he stepped into the cage -- and before the official decision was read -- and made his pitch.
"I was like, 'Please let me fight Matt Hughes,'" Almeida told MMA fighting. "I said, 'That's the fight I want. If you guys think it makes sense, let's do it.'"
It wasn't just watching his teacher Renzo Gracie lose that spurred Almeida to action. In fact, measuring himself against Hughes had been a possibility that had simmered in his mind for a decade, since 200, when he lost a close grappling match on points to Huges in the 99kg-and-under division of the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships.
And how he's actually bulked up since moving down to 170lbs:
"I changed some things in my training," he said. "I brought in a nutritionist and someone to watch over the weight cut, so when I fought Brown I was five pounds heavier than when I fought Kendall [Grove]. When I fought Kendall I was 187, when I fought Brown I was 192 walking in the ring. Ever since the Brown fight I've been lifting weights and working on things outside of martial arts training. I'm probably 198 right now. Matt is a strong guy and I don't want to be outmuscled by him. Putting on a couple of pounds I think is going to help me. We'll see how I deal with the weight cut but I'm confident it's going to be no problem.
Matt Hughes (44-7, 17-5 UFC) vs. Ricardo Almeida (12-3, 5-3 UFC) is set for UFC 117 on August 7 in Oakland, CA.