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TRAINING: Every day varies for me. I do lots of situational stuff so that I am prepared for wherever the fight goes. Sometimes the focus is on wrestling takedowns and defense. Sometimes I focus on escapes and defending myself against strikes on the ground. Of course, I continue to practice my striking, grappling and full MMA sparring.
When and why did you start training for fighting? I started training in 1999. I met my best friend in college (Justin Bruckmann) and he encouraged me to come out to his gym and start training. Prior to that, I was very close to embarking on a professional soccer career (I played in Portugal and was called up to one of the top teams in the country, Sporting Lisbon. Once I found martial arts and the sport of MMA, I knew that this was the lifestyle I wanted to live. There was something so honest and pure about the concept of martial arts. I just wanted to try to live the most honorable and honest life I could. The martial arts have helped me so much with that philosophy. I feel there is nothing more liberating than living this way of life.
What ranks and titles have you held? Number 1 ranked Shooto fighter in the lightweight division (Lightweight division in Japan = Featherweight in North America) in the Americas and in the world for a bit.
Do you have any heroes? For MMA: Rumina Sato. My family and friends in everyday life. I owe them everything and could not do any of this without their love and support.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? I have accomplished much more in this sport than I ever thought possible. Fighting in the UFC is the icing on the cake. The UFC, somehow, found room for me in their roster. This will be my last chance to prove to myself that I am an elite featherweight. The UFC has given me my chance. This next step in my fighting career is about leaving whatever I have left in the cage once and for all.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? Yes. Police Foundations.
What was your job before you started fighting? I have worked everywhere from a tire shop to Tommy Hilfiger to make ends meet so I could train and compete. I now teach martial arts at Bruckmann Martial Arts to stay afloat. I even lived and trained in Japan for two years where I competed in MMA and kickboxing to pay my bills. I even did some modeling on the side in Japan as well.
Specific accomplishments in amateur competition? Ontario, Pankration Champion. Numerous jiu-jitsu titles in the province of Ontario, Canada.
Ranks in any martial arts styles: Black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Pro Kickboxing experience.
Favorite grappling technique: Whatever technique taps out my opponent.
Favorite Striking technique: Whatever strike knocks out my opponent.