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Diego Lopes displays on meteoric UFC rise: ‘Exceeded my expectations’

Diego Lopes’s rise within the UFC has been a particular one.

The 29-year-old has the MMA world by storm. Lower than a yr after he signed with the UFC, Lopes (24-6 MMA, 3-1 UFC) is a fan favourite and darkish horse featherweight contender.

Lopes debuted on only a few days’ discover in Could 2023. He nearly took the unbeaten file from high contender Movsar Evloev, however gave him his hardest UFC combat and earned a Battle of the Night time bonus within the course of. Following his debut, Lopes submitted Gavin Tucker in August and knocked out Pat Sabatini in November. Each stoppages got here within the first spherical and gained Efficiency of the Night time bonuses.

And earlier this month, he grew to become the primary to cease Sodiq Yusuff when he put him away in brutal trend within the first spherical at UFC 300.

It’s been a wild 11 months for the Brazilian.

“It’s exceeded my expectations,” Lopes instructed MMA Junkie in Spanish concerning his UFC rise. “I knew that I may do it, however I didn’t suppose it could occur so fast, prefer it’s turned out.

“I do suppose one factor is for certain: Each alternative they’ve given me, it’s a chance to take a step ahead, and I’ve completed that in each single combat. For the reason that combat with Movsar, I’ve given it my all so folks can know who I’m. … I feel the UFC offers you the instruments to construct your self, and it’s as much as you ways you make your personal path.

“I feel I’ve completed issues properly, and I’ve made essentially the most of all alternatives. I feel one thing that’s been key’s that I’ve left each combat unscathed, and that’s helped me to be lively.”

After he completed Yusuff, Lopes entered the UFC’s official featherweight rankings at No. 14. It was an enormous achievement for Lopes and one he mentioned he’s pleased with.

“A film went via my head,” Lopes mentioned when he discovered he entered the UFC rankings. “It’s unbelievable, all the pieces that’s occurred and the way it’s occurred. I anticipated to enter the rankings after the combat in New York, nevertheless it didn’t occur. However now I’ve my title among the many greatest 15 on the earth, so for me, it’s very gratifying.

“I feel this speaks to the work that we’ve put in, how we’ve gained the fights, and I feel it was inevitable that I used to be going to enter the rankings after this one.”

Lopes, who’s been angling for large fights, is happy to be among the many greatest 15 fighters within the UFC’s featherweight division not solely as a result of it speaks of his standing within the promotion, but in addition as a result of his upcoming fights ought to be in opposition to the larger names within the division.

“I’ve been on the lookout for these kind of challenges,” Lopes mentioned. “I’ve instructed you prior to now that I would like robust fights. That’s what I like. Now I’m ready that whoever I combat in opposition to, will probably be a really robust combat – and that motivates me loads, and it motivates me to organize even higher and care for my physique and my psychological well being – all the pieces.

“Sodiq pressured me to work like by no means earlier than as a result of he’s one of many hardest fights within the division. Everybody is aware of that. So beating him the way in which I did, I feel that lets all of the contenders know that I’m a troublesome combat for them, simply as they’re robust fights for me.”

Take a look at the Hablemos MMA YouTube channel for Spanish-language movies and interviews with MMA Junkie’s Danny Segura.

Make sure you go to the MMA Junkie Instagram web page and YouTube channel to debate this and extra content material with followers of combined martial arts.

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