Dana White’s Contender Series veteran Jailton Almeida turned a lot of heads in his UFC debut in February, and hopes to keep the train rolling in a different weight class this Saturday.
Entering his second fight under the UFC banner, Almeida (15-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) will be moving up from light heavyweight to meet heavyweight Parker Porter on the prelims at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. From a weight-cutting standpoint, Almeida is already enjoying the lead up to this fight against Porter (13-6 MMA, 3-1 UFC).
“Just not having to cut the weight and not even worry about weight is a big thing,” Almeida told reporters through an interpreter at UFC Fight Night 206 media day. “I’m a lot happier, my self-esteem is way up there, and I’m sleeping well. So, there’s a bunch of factors that are very good with not having to cut weight.
“I was talking to my team and it’s something that we could consider, but right now I think the plan is to fight light heavyweight,” Almeida said. “But I want to keep active, so if there’s opportunities that make sense at heavyweight we’re up for it.”
Bouncing between two divisions would be similar to how rising star Khamzat Chimaev began in the UFC. Almeida has said in the past he has been inspired by the surging welterweight and hopes to emulate his career. Almeida also draws inspiration from former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, if he ends up staying at welterweight, he may have to look to another champion to emulate.
“Everybody knows I’ve been very open about being such a fan of Khabib and of Chimaev,” Almeida said. “Maybe, you don’t know how our styles are going to develop. I might end up being like Francis Ngannou, you never know.”
Almeida’s opponent on Saturday said he expects the matchup to be a classic grappler vs. striker fight, but Almeida doesn’t believe it’s that simple. While he won’t know what Porter will present until the fight begins and he feels out what’s happening, Almeida believes he can take care of business on the feet too.
“I know that my grappling is probably way ahead of his, but I’ve been boxing since I was a kid,” Almeida said. “Boxing is where I came from. So I know that if I need to strike, I can strike with him on equal terms. … Don’t be surprised if we’re slugging it out by the end of the night.”
Check out the full pre-fight interview with Almeida in the video above.