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Gabriel Bonfim: Eyes Wide Open


Gabriel Bonfim had grown accustomed to having his hand raised, but an unexpected setback forced him to look inward and identify areas where changes were needed in order to move forward in the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight division.

The 26-year-old Brazilian will attempt to rebound from his first professional defeat when he collides with Ange Loosa in a featured UFC on ESPN 59 attraction this Saturday at Ball Arena in Denver. Bonfim started his career with 15 consecutive victories, a contract-clinching submission of Trey Waters on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2022 preceding back-to-back first-round finishes of Mounir Lazzez and Trevin Giles inside the Octagon. However, a second-round technical knockout defeat to former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Nicolas Dalby at UFC Fight Night 231 slowed his rise led to a recalibration of sorts.

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“Losses are part of an athlete’s life,” Bonfim told Sherdog.com. “We face the best in the world, so this can happen sometimes. We train to keep it from happening. I thought I had been training correctly since I had been doing well, but it wasn’t the right way. I wasn’t putting in my best effort or giving my all. I see that loss as a learning experience. It opened my eyes about what can happen in the UFC. I’ve been learning a lot. Training is much improved.”

Part of the welterweight prospect’s learning curve involved breaking away from the Cerrado MMA camp with which he was long associated and setting out to start something with older brothers Ismael Bonfim and Odair “Samuray” Bonfim. “We made the choice to create our own team,” he said. Sparring partners include Djorden Ribeiro dos Santos, Guilherme Soares and Lucas Caio, while Renato Ferreira serves as their luta livre and grappling coach. “We’re bringing in some other folks to help out.”

Time will tell whether or not the change proves fruitful for Bonfim. Loosa provides the first test. The Kill Cliff Fight Club export enters their encounter having compiled a 2-1 record with one no contest across his four appearances in the UFC. Loosa, 31, sports six finishes among his 10 professional victories. He last competed at UFC Fight Night 239, where his March 16 pairing with Bryan Battle resulted in a no contest due to an accidental eye poke.

“Loosa is versatile,” Bonfim said. “He has striking and grappling, but he’s only at 50% in each facet. He doesn’t reach 100% in any place. We’ve been studying him closely. I believe it’s going to be a great fight. I believe it could go into the third round, but if he makes any mistakes before then, I’ll knock him out or submit him.”

The three-round clash gives Bonfim an opportunity to show his resilience and offers him his latest chance to clear another hurdle at 170 pounds.

“My plan is to fight and, God willing, win,” he said. “I want to have a beautiful fight and an excellent performance so I can keep climbing and eventually get a ranked opponent. The goal is to be champion in our weight class.”
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