The only UFC fighter present in all three “Fight Island” trips in Abu Dhabi, Carlos Felipe feels different this time.
“Boi” was returning from a long layoff, courtesy of a two-year USADA suspension, when he made his octagon debut this past July, losing a majority decision to Sergey Spivak. He was back in action three months later, getting his hands raised after slugging it out with Yorgan De Castro for three rounds.
Back for a Jan. 16 clash with Justin Tafa at UFC Fight Island 7, Felipe has “great expectations” for the 11th professional bout of his MMA career, and credits the fact he’s more used to the bright lights of the UFC to go with the ultimate cliche, the “best camp” of my life.
“You can expect a show,” he said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “Surprisingly, I’m not as anxious for this fight as I was for the others, and I think that’s positive. Whether you like it or not, you end up wearing yourself out when you’re too emotional.
“I had that initial anxiety of being in the UFC for the first time, which is every fighter’s dream. I had the first loss and was pressured to win the second, and I’m more calm now, in my usual self. I don’t get anxious for fights, it’s just another day in the office for me.”
Felipe’s “best camp” since joining the UFC was also made possible due to MMA gyms being open once again in Brazil despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in his home country, allowing the heavyweight to welcome more sparring and training partners.
Tafa, on the other hand, has only fought once in 2020, stopping Juan Adams in under two minutes in February. That happened just four months after he was finished by Yorgan De Castro in his sole MMA defeat.
“I don’t think he will handle my pace,” Felipe said. “Many people criticised my cardio in my last fight [against De Castro] but we were two strikers in there. I ate 12 kicks to the leg, we stood and traded several times, and he was the one appearing to be dead in the end — and Yorgan has dangerous striking, he beat my next opponent and was beating Greg Hardy before he had to slow down because of an injury.
“I think [De Castro] is a good striker and I got through him, so I’m sure this next fight will be a show. I’m getting more comfortable and letting my game flow more after each fight. The first one, I’d say I used 45 percent of my performance, then 70 percent in the second one, and now I think I’ll show 85 percent. It will only get better.”
“Boi” won’t use “MMA math” and therefore conclude Tafa is an easy prey only because he just defeated the man that knocked him out because “you end up relaxing too much” if expecting an easy fight.
That said, Felipe still predicts a TKO victory despite treating Tafa as “the best in the world” going into Saturday’s event.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a knockout or a technical knockout,” he said. “I don’t think he can keep up with me. The longer the fight goes, he will surrender little by little until he can’t fight anymore. He will either stall like Yorgan did — but he will get knocked out if he tries that —, or he will quit altogether and get knocked out.”