There truly isn’t a shortage of young talent when it comes to mixed martial arts.
Almost every region in the world has world class mixed martial artists. From Australia to Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and all points in between, high-caliber fighters are being produced at a rapid rate.
But from the very beginning of combat sports, Brazil has been a hotspot for producing some of the world’s best fighters. And with UFC champions such as Charles Oliveria, Glover Teixeira, and Deiveson Figueiredo at the helm of their divisions, many of the younger Brazilian fighters have found plenty of motivation in their compatriots.
26-year-old Kleydson Rodrigues believes he is going to be one of the next great Brazilian champions. In his seven-year fight career, he’s amassed an impressive record of 7-1, with three wins by KO and two by submission.
Rodrigues is young and still evolving as a fighter. It just so happens that he’ll now be doing it on the world’s biggest stage, as he makes his UFC debut against CJ Vergara in front of a packed house in Phoenix, Arizona, this Saturday.
“I started MMA at 17, and at 18 I had my first fight. Thank God I’m here, doing my debut in the biggest organization in the world, the UFC,” said an excited Rodrigues. “I started doing capoeira as a kid. Then I started to work out at the gym, transitioned to jiu-jitsu and started training professional MMA.”
After a strong performance on Dana White’s Contender Series, Rodrigues had impressed the boss enough to earn a spot in the flyweight division.
But winning the bout over Santo Curatolo by unanimous decision wasn’t necessarily the performance that the Brazilian had envisioned for himself when attempting to break into the UFC.
A win in the Octagon is nothing to discredit, though Rodrigues will always be his biggest critic, and that’s what makes him a fighter to watch.
It doesn’t take much to look at Rodrigues and see a high-caliber athlete, either. An active kid growing up, Rodrigues has always had raw athletic ability. Training alongside UFC Hall of Famer Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, Rodrigues has the tools to find success in the UFC’s flyweight division.
“Team Nogueira has helped me since the beginning of my career. I’m incredibly thankful for everything they’ve done and still do for me. I really trust my team and I’m definitely ready for my debut.”
In a division stacked with talent, Rodrigues won’t look past Vergara, as he knows that the big fights will come with time. At 26, there’s no need to rush things.
“I have the utmost respect for all the athletes that are fighting there. I’m not thinking about challenging anyone yet. Each one has their own merit and I’m getting ready,” said Rodrigues. “I want to put on a good fight in my debut, fight some guys, and later on, who knows, I might be able to challenge some people. They can expect a great show with lots of action, aggressiveness, and heart.”
UFC 274: Oliveira vs Gaethje took place on Saturday, May 7, 2022, live from a sold out Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!