Chute Boxe’s Diego Lima has a busy schedule in the coming months at the UFC with the return of lightweight champion Charles Oliveira and teammates Allan Nascimento, Polyana Viana and Daniel Santos. The latter, sparring partner of “Do Bronx” on a daily basis, finds additional motivation by seeing the UFC belt hanging on the wall of the gymnasium.
Santos makes his first step to the octagon in Saturday’s UFC 273 preliminary round in Jacksonville, Fla., taking on Julio Arce in a bantamweight bout. Being around Oliveira and feeling that “champion vibe” during camp pushed him to the biggest opportunity of his MMA career.
“[The UFC belt] is the object we all dream of – every fighter, every athlete,” Santos said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “Having the belt [in the gym] and being able to touch it, put it on their shoulders and know that your friend and teammate did it, that motivates you even more. Like, you know it’s possible. With determination, focus and discipline, you can do it too. This gives me the strength to continue to believe.
“I’m going to show my work in the UFC now. With time and faith in God, I will be a champion too. I trust that will happen.
Santos has been preparing for UFC 273 by trading hands and rolling with “do Bronx” in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and he predicts a devastating finish for Oliveira on May 7 when the lightweight belt is on the line against the former interim titleholder Justin Gaethje at UFC 274. .
“Charles will knock Gaethje out, man,” Santos said. “Charles is on a roll, very confident, training hard and patching the holes in his game. Rest assured that Charles is coming to do what he does best, pushing forward all the time for the win. I trust the KO will come. He is at his best.
First, “Willycat” must do his part and secure his first octagon win in Jacksonville. Fully recovered from a broken hand that canceled his UFC debut last October, Santos says styles have changed “100%” from original opponents Timur Valiev and Marcelo Rojo to Arce .
“Julio is left-handed and has good boxing, keeps good distance, but I have great training and fighting here,” Santos said. “It was going to be a tough fight with Valiev and it will also be a tough fight with Arce. He has a lot of experience inside the UFC, but I’m ready. I am 100%. It doesn’t surprise me much.
Arce is 4-3 under the UFC banner with wins over Dan Ige, Daniel Teymur and Andre Ewell, but dropped his most recent against Yadong Song in November 2021. Santos said Arce showed “a big heart” in his split decision. loss to Sheymon Moraes in 2018 but doubts Arce has recovered after eating shots from him.
“I’ll be honest with you, it would be difficult,” Santos said. “He’s a badass, I watched that fight and he got knocked down twice and came back, but I’m also very tough. It’s going to be a war, but I’m going to knock him out. I hit strong too. My hand is really hard. If he lands, I think it will be difficult for him to get back on his feet.