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Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Celebrates Kleydson Rodrigues’ DWCS Win, UFC Signing


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The sky is the limit for Kleydson Rodrigues, according to friend and mentor Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Growing up in the slums of the Amazon region in the Brazilian state of Amapa, Rodrigues had a very tough childhood, living in a house on stilts raised over a river. When he was 14 years old, he would to sell bread as soon as the sun was up in order to help his family, before going to school. In the afternoon, after returning from school, he sold homemade ice cream. Passionate about fighting, “K.R.” saved every cent his parents gave him to buy Ultimate Fighting Championship and Pride Fighting Championships DVDs.

Inspired by his uncle, a capoeira practitioner, with whom he learned his first moves, he entered the martial arts world. Guided by his instinct, Rodrigues reached MMA and entered into his first fight at 17 years old, and he never stopped. When advised about the talented kid, Thiago dos Santos e Silva brought him to Rio de Janeiro, over 1,650 miles away from his hometown, to train at Team Nogueira several years ago.

At the fourth week of the 2021 season of Dana White's Contender Series, Rodrigues appeared and captured a spirited unanimous decision win over Santo Curatolo. UFC President Dana White was thrilled at his performance, signing the Brazilian flyweight along with a few others at the end of the night. Former UFC and Pride FC heavyweight champ Nogueira was among the first to celebrate Rodrigues’ success, and after he posted on Instagram about the signing, he spoke to Sherdog about Rodrigues.

“A history of success, a winner of life and fighting,” Nogueira noted about his student.

He continued to gush about Rodrigues, explaining that, “he conquered the contract, impressing a lot with his speed and power.”

On Thursday, Rodrigues’ UFC debut on Jan. 15 was announced against Uzbekistan native Zarrukh Adashev. Although Nogueira admitted he did not know much about Adashev, he was nonetheless excited about the prospect of Rodrigues joining the UFC. “Minotauro” was both proud and optimistic about how far the 26-year-old can go in the Octagon.

“This guy was brought to Team Nogueira by his friend, former UFC fighter, [Thiago] Trator six years ago,” Nogueira said. “We tried to give the best structure for him, and he impressed our head coach Vander Valverde from the beginning, not only for his kicking ability, but also for his fast evolution both in wrestling and on the ground. Of course, [the] UFC is the world cup of MMA, I don’t know too much about his first opponent yet, but for my experience with talents I would say this guy has a great future and will provide great fights in flyweight division.”

Rodrigues joins Raulian Paiva, Felipe Dias Colares, “Trator,” and John Teixeira among the few fighters from Amapa in UFC history. “K.R.” has seven MMA fights since debuting in 2015, and he served as the Jungle Fight flyweight champion before relinquishing his title to go to the major leagues. After five impressive wins in a row at Rio de Janeiro events, with the last one for the Jungle Fight title, Rodrigues earned the chance to show his skills in DWCS. Earning the contract and already preparing for his organizational debut, Rodrigues has realized the first part of his dream.

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