Augusto Sakai defeated the most experienced and popular opponent he’s faced so far in MMA in his second UFC bout, but wasn’t happy with the way he got it done.
Now, five months after a controversial split decision win over Andrei Arlovski in April, the Brazilian heavyweight promises to entertain the fans when he steps into the Octagon on Saturday night to battle Marcin Tybura at UFC Vancouver.
Sakai puts the blame on both him and Arlovski for the slow-paced fight in Fort Lauderdale, but mostly on the former UFC heavyweight champion for not taking any risks inside the Octagon.
“The Arlovski fight was a bit strategical, a bit boring to watch, but it’s going to be completely different with Tybura now,” Sakai told MMA Fighting. “We fixed the issues we had to fix so now I will definitely end this fight before the third round.
“(Tybura) likes to mix it up. He likes to grapple and go for takedowns when he’s fighting strikers, so I’ll be prepared in case he tries to take me down. I’ll let my game flow and everything will be alright.”
Tybura is ranked ahead of Sakai in the UFC heavyweight rankings, but has only won one of his last four bouts. His defeats came against some of the best in the division, like Derrick Lewis and Fabricio Werdum, and Sakai expects to jump closer to the top 10 with a big win Saturday.
Not only that, the Brazilian hopes to establish himself as the future of the heavyweight division. At 13-1-1 as a professional fighter, the 28-year-old is younger than 13 of the 15 heavyweights ranked ahead of him today and won four in a row with three knockouts since the only loss of his career, a split decision to Cheick Kongo in Bellator.
“My team and I have been working for a long time, even before I joined the UFC, to become one of the best,” Sakai said. “Now that I’m in the top 15, we’ll continue to work hard every day to climb the ranking. This weight class is a bit shallow, but even if it wasn’t I would still work hard. We’ll climb the ladder step by step, and my next step is Tybura.”
“I believe that my rise will be fast when I show my potential in there,” he continued. “I’m not a trash talker and I don’t like to promote myself a certain way outside the cage. I prefer to do my work through fighting. I want to put on an excellent fight, finish it as quick as possible, and then maybe fight a top 10 next.”
If he indeed gets a fast finish in Vancouver, Sakai will volunteer for a quick turnaround at the upcoming UFC show Brazil on Nov. 16. The event will take place at the Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, the same venue where Sakai made his Octagon debut with a third-round knockout against Chase Sherman last September.
“If I can get a quick finish, I’ll definitely ask for a spot on that card,” Sakai said. “Despite the short period to prepare, I would love to be able to fight in Sao Paulo and feel that energy from the crowd. Fighting in Brazil is great. I felt that energy in my UFC debut and it would be even better if I could feel that energy again. That’s where it all started for me in the UFC, so it would be really cool to fight there again.”