The UFC has always had a penchant for delivering high-octane action, and November 4, 2023, promises to be no exception. The iconic Ginásio do Ibirapuera in São Paulo, Brazil, stands ready to host the UFC Fight Night 231, also familiar to many as UFC on ESPN+ 89. This event is strategically structured, with 14 well-matched bouts. Each bout has been curated to feature a Brazilian fighter, ensuring the home crowd has a local hero to cheer for, amplifying the atmosphere.
The crowning jewel of the evening is undeniably the heavyweight tussle between São Paulo’s own prodigy, Jailton Almeida, and the hard-hitting Derrick Lewis. A glance at their statistics provides a glimpse of what’s at stake. Lewis, with a record of 27 wins, 11 losses, and 1 no contest, is no stranger to high-pressure situations. On the opposite side of the octagon, Almeida, holding a record of 19 wins and a mere 2 losses, brings a blend of skill and youth.
Jailton Almeida, often referred to by fans and peers as “Malhadinho,” has consistently displayed superiority inside the UFC octagon. His striking record against his past five UFC contenders stands at an astonishing 114-2. Such dominance speaks volumes about his preparedness and in-cage strategy. His triumph over Jairzinho Rozenstruik this past May is a testament to his growing prowess. But Derrick Lewis is no walkover. Despite stepping in on short notice for the injured Curtis Blaydes, Lewis is a formidable force.
Almeida, while discussing his upcoming bout on the Trocação Franca podcast, acknowledged the looming challenge. He asserted, “Everybody knows that Derrick Lewis is extremely dangerous, and hair doesn’t grow anymore where his hand connects,” but quickly followed up with a strategic assessment, pointing out Lewis’s comparative speed to his previous opponents. He says, “The good thing about this matchup is that he’s a bit slower than Jairzinho and Curtis Blaydes, but his hands are dangerous. If his hand lands, we all know it’s fatal. But I believe in God and in my training, and we’ll be able to block that.”
The stakes of this bout stretch beyond personal victory. Curtis Blaydes, the originally scheduled opponent for Almeida, holds the No. 4 spot in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings. A face-off against Blaydes would have been a chance for Almeida to propel himself into the elite circle. Lewis, on the other hand, offers a different kind of allure. As Almeida noted, “Derrick Lewis has more than two million [Instagram] followers, he’s quite popular for the things he does, like taking off his shorts and all that. He’s fought for the belt twice, he’s known worldwide. Blaydes could be a great fight for me, beating him would make people see me differently, but I want to climb the stairs step by step. Things happened so fast for me, I’m a top-10 in less than two years. I don’t think any heavyweight was able to do that. But this is going to be a good fight for everybody. It’s going to be funny.”
Winning this bout is paramount for Almeida’s aspirations. A victory would not only bolster his UFC record to an undefeated 6-0 but also solidify his claim for a title shot. Yet, the journey to the championship is layered with complexities. With an interim title bout on the horizon, the roadmap is anything but linear. However, Almeida’s ambition remains undeterred, with eyes set on other top contenders, especially Ciryl Gane.
Ciryl Gane’s recent performances have ignited debates across the MMA community. Almeida, too, weighed in, analyzing Gane’s encounters with MMA stalwarts like Jon Jones and Serghei Spivac. Such insights provide a fresh perspective into the minds of fighters, who often play a mental game as much as a physical one.
The event’s co-main event, a clash between welterweights Gabriel Bonfim and Nicolas Dalby, also holds promise. With every bout on the card having potential for a thrilling outcome, UFC Fight Night 231 is shaping up to be a memorable night for MMA enthusiasts.