As the old saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and Caio Borralho’s placement on Saturday’s UFC 280 mega-event perfectly illustrates that idea.
“In my last interview before my last fight, I asked for a pay-per-view card,” he smiles as he sits down to talk with UFC.com in Abu Dhabi. “I asked for a big arena and now I'm here. They gave me what I asked for and I'm really grateful and really happy to be on this card.”
The rising Brazilian middleweight had spent his last three fights inside the UFC APEX dating back to his contract-winning performance on Dana White’s Contender Series one year ago, followed quickly by back-to-back wins over Gadzhi Omargadzhiev and Armen Petrosyan. The intimate Las Vegas venue has been good to him, but he was eager to bring his talents to a bigger audience. That wish was granted in spades with his prelim matchup versus Makhmud Muradov this Saturday.
“It’s the biggest card of the year, the biggest event of the year. There’s a lot of more love, more eyes on me this time. So I'm ready to go and excited to fight in front of the fans.”
Fans are generally rewarded when “The Natural” steps into the Octagon. His lone pro loss was in his second MMA fight nearly seven years ago. Since then, he’s been seemingly unstoppable, wielding a style that employs his black belts in jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai in equal measure. His two-fight tenure in the UFC has provided him with a multitude of new insights on how to elevate an already-powerful game.
“I don't know if I can point out everything,” he says, “but I learned composure. I learned to stop suffering…because when we are training, we like to show that we are suffering a little bit. But I don't want to show this anymore. I stopped the suffering. I'm just training hard. No suffering, nothing. Just doing the work that I'm going to be doing my whole life. The next ten years, I will be fighting, so I can't suffer now. Training hard is training hard, and this is it. Stop suffering, work hard, and get the money.”
Those are real words to live by, regardless of your vocation. And despite being seen driving around Abu Dhabi this fight week in the kind of sports car that makes other sports cars jealous, he’s quick to point out that it’s a rental that merely looks good on Instagram. His pursuit of money is far less about luxury than it is about providing for his loved ones.
“I don't want to be worried about money anymore. I’m always thinking about my future and how I'm going to keep the money coming and everything. So that's the one goal that I have with MMA - to make money, provide for my family, provide for my people, for my wife and to everybody that loves me since day one. But the ultimate goal is to be a champion. If you’re champion, the money will come. If you know how to invest your money, how to use it properly, it’s never going to end. So that's all I think about: money and the belt.”
The next step towards both of those goals starts with the always-dangerous Muradov. Borralo admits he was unfamiliar with the Uzbekistan product when he accepted the bout, but he’s plenty acquainted now.
“I saw all his fights. He's a very experienced guy with a good right hand. But I think he's going to try to do only one thing with me: strike. You know, he's not going to try to take me down because he knows my level of jiu-jitsu, my level of wrestling.
“So, I think it would be a guy that’s going to be easy to read, but I can't lose my focus on the fight. Sometimes when the fight gets easy, guys lose the focus and get knocked out. So, I will be very focused on this fight the entire 15 minutes and I'll be reading him all the time. I'll be preparing some traps for him and for sure will be going to finish this fight.”
That would indeed be an epic conclusion to his first massive pay-per-view fight week. And knowing that he apparently has the power to manifest what happens next in his career, what will be on his mind when he finds his arm raised and a microphone in front of his mouth?
"It would mean the world, fighting in front of my people," he says, referencing the UFC's 2023 return to Brazil in January. "I can bring a lot of people to the to the arena in Rio de Janeiro. It's a pay-per-view card, and I know I can be on the main card this time. There are a lot of bigger guys than me on this (UFC 280) card, but in Brazil I need to be the main card. After I beat Muradov on Saturday, I want to be om the main card in Brazil. For sure."
UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev took place live from Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi on October 22, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!