Entering a fight week on a losing streak is foreign territory for Raoni Barcelos.
And while it’s a new situation for the Brazilian bantamweight, Barcelos isn’t feeling any additional pressure heading into his UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Yan matchup with Trevin Jones. He’s just happy to be back competing and to have an opportunity to return to his winning ways.
“It’s a new beginning,” Barcelos told UFC.com. “I have to bounce back in the UFC. I want to get in the rankings and get a winning streak because I have the mindset and the focus of a champion. I have to put on a good performance so I can a have a fresh start.”
At 16-3, dropping back-to-back bouts for the first time in his career was an eye-opening experience for Barcelos.
The losses forced him to go back to the drawing board, make a few changes, and work harder than ever. Barcelos channeled that energy over the last nine months and believes he’s sharper than ever and in the perfect spot to get an emphatic victory.
“This training camp was completely different from any of the other ones,” Barcelos said. “You’re going to see a new Raoni with a different pace and a different fighting style. I’m coming back strong, and I want to put on a good performance and get a finish.”
Barcelos sees Jones as a tough opponent, the type of guy who isn’t afraid to get into a brawl. That kind of matchup excites Barcelos and gives him confidence that he’ll be able to showcase this new and improved version of himself.
“I can’t say that this is a good fight for me because I have to be careful with all my opponent’s weapons, but what I can say is that I have to be focused on what I have to do to win,” Barcelos said. “I’m coming to execute my game and I’m planning on taking him to the ground and finishing the fight. Let me be clear, though, I’m ready for wherever it goes.”
If all goes according to Barcelos’ plan this weekend, he’ll be victorious and healthy enough to compete in Brazil next year. He hasn’t been able to fight in Brazil since May of 2019, when he earned a thrilling TKO victory over Carlos Huachin.
The UFC returns to Rio de Janeiro on January 21 for UFC 283, so the timing isn’t out of the question for Barcelos to return to his home country for a fight.
“The timing lines up perfectly. We are almost in October and that fight is in January,” Barcelos said. “I’m from Rio de Janeiro, so I can’t miss this show. I want to be there; I need to be there.”
A bounce back win and then potentially fighting in front of his home crowd?
All that’s left for Barcelos to do is make it happen.