The UFC middleweight division has Israel Adesanya sitting atop the mountain and a number of Brazilian talents looking to break into the rankings in the near future. Gregory Rodrigues is one of them, but he’s not afraid to rush through the ranks.
Aside from Paulo Costa in the top 5 and Andre Muniz looking to crack the top 10 with his next fight with Uriah Hall in April, Brazil currently have Alex Pereira, Bruno Santos and Rodolfo Vieira battling for attention outside from the top 15 to 185 lbs.
Rodrigues is 2-0 so far in the UFC with a ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus in his last win, but hasn’t gotten the same level of hype as some of his compatriots before his third octagon appearance at Saturday’s UFC Vegas. 49 clash against Armen Petrosyan, brother of legendary kickboxer Giorgio Petrosyan.
“Each fight that happens, depending on the win, it puts you in a different position [in the UFC]Rodrigues told MMA Fighting. “I just turned 30 and I still have a lot of work to do. I’m in no hurry. I’m in no rush to be in this hype. I’m doing good work, solid work, so I’ll stay on top when I get there. I walk step by step.”
“Robocop” made his first Zuffa appearance in September 2020 when he lost by knockout to Jordan Williams at Dana WhiteContender series of. Rodrigues considered retiring from MMA after that fight, but eventually reached a deal with the LFA. In the span of three months, Rodrigues went on to stop Al Matavao on his LFA debut, knock out Josh Fremd to win the company middleweight belt and earn a decision over Dusko Todorovic on his LFA debut. the UFC.
“They already see me, I’m a dangerous guy for the division,” Rodrigues said. “I’m ready to fight anyone. I like the fights that the UFC gives me. They took me one step at a time. The challenge is getting bigger and bigger, but I like challenges. I am motivated by challenges and that motivates me to keep doing my best.
Following his decision win over Todorovic in June 2021, Rodrigues returned four months later to stop Jun Yong Park in a war of attrition at UFC Vegas 41.
Now booked against another DWCS alum, Rodrigues feels the UFC is investing heavily in Competitor Series fighters, so he’s confident this will be a great fight against a veteran striker who holds 70 kickboxing wins and more than 90 documented fights.
“He’s a kickboxer with a good punch, but I’ve evolved a lot on my stand-up,” he said. “I have a great weapon in my favor – jiu-jitsu – and I think that will be key in this fight. But you have to be prepared to mix things up and I’ve been working on that. My friends at Sanford MMA, my trainers, ‘Durinho’ [Gilbert Burns] helped me a lot during this transition so that we could perform well in the UFC.
“I blend in well with anybody because my stand-up is awesome, my hands are heavy. I can either punch this guy or submit him. …I’m ready to knock him out, I’m confident on the feet. I like to reinvent myself. If he thinks I’m just a jiu-jitsu guy, he’ll fall with my hands.