Raoni Barcelos Discusses Camp Change, Upcoming Bout vs. Umar Nurmagomedov
Initially tabbed by trainers and teammates as the natural Brazilian successor to Jose Aldo as the future of the bantamweight division, Raoni Barcelos hasn’t climbed the rankings in the manner many expected after his UFC debut in 2018.
After winning his first five Octagon appearances, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and national wrestling champion dropped back-to-back decisions against Timur Valiev and Victor Henry. That prompted him to leave Rizzo RVT at the beginning of 2022 to train with former UFC fighter Davi Ramos.
"Training with guys like Davi and Rousimar Palhares brought me back to my grappling roots,” Barcelos told Sherdog.com shortly after returning to the win column with a decision win over Trevin Jones in October.
Barcelos next had designs on fighting on home soil at UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“Unfortunately it was not possible to fight in front of my family and friends in Rio, but at least the UFC gave me a ranked opponent and that's the most important to me,” Barcelos said.
Barcelos will face the undefeated Umar Nurmagomedov at UFC Fight Night 217 on Jan. 14 – one week before UFC 283.
"I like real challenges. I'm really happy that UFC is giving me a ranked opponent and such a great challenge like Umar,” he said.
Barcelos is not fazed by the Nurmagomedov surname, nor is he concerned that his opponent’s brother (Usman Nurmagomedov) and cousin (Islam Makhachev) are coming off title victories against Brazilians Patricky Freire and Charles Oliveira, respectively. Barcelos already owns a win over Said Nurmagomedov, and that gives him confidence heading into a matchup against an adversary with the same name.
"To tell you the truth I already defeated a Nurmagomedov in the UFC who is more complete than Umar, who has a great grappling game but is not as dangerous striker as Said is,” Barcelos said.
Barcelos points to the experience of his sparring partners as an asset in camp for his American Kickboxing Academy-trained foe.
"Davi Ramos, Palhares and most of my daily teammates are fighting in ACA and other Russian events,” he said. “There is no other place to train in Rio when you are going to face Russians.”
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