MONTREAL — Antonio Carvalho is competing for the first time in Montreal as part of the UFC on Saturday, and now more people will able to watch his UFC 154 fight against Rodrigo Damm.
The Oshawa-based Carvalho, who fought twice in Montreal in his first four career MMA fights in 2003-2004 when it was the closest place where MMA was legalized, had his preliminary bout promoted to the televised undercard when fellow Canadian Nick Ring was forced off the card due to a high fever Saturday morning.
Watch UFC 154 preliminary fights on Sportsnet on Saturday starting at 8 p.m. ET plus an hour-long preview show at 7 p.m. ET. Also, catch live early prelims on Sportsnet.ca starting at 6 p.m. ET.
The 33-year-old featherweight definitely feels a connection to the city.
“Absolutely, this is kind of where (I started), not only just for me, but a lot of my teammates I started with in the UCC/TKO days, way back — guys like Sean Pierson, Justin Bruckmann, Richard Nancoo, Mark Hominick, Sam Stout — and it’s nice to see that we’re all still kind of here,” Carvalho told Sportsnet.ca this week. “It’s been a long road, and we’re still doing what we love and doing it well.”
His corner of Bruckmann and Nancoo and fellow UFC fighter Pierson were all in Montreal with Carvalho, who trains out of Bruckmann Martial Arts in Oshawa. Meanwhile, Hominick and Stout, two of the better known Canadians who earned their stripes in the early days fighting in the now-defunct Montreal-based TKO Championship Fighting (formerly UCC) are also on Saturday’s UFC 154 card in Montreal, the first one in the city in nearly two years.
So it’s quite a nice reunion for the boys.
“We all came out here like Team Canada,” added Carvalho, who is known for his healthy beard but is walking around this week with just the mustache after the beard was shaved off Wednesday for Movember.
Carvalho is coming off the first UFC win in his career in his second Octagon appearance, a first-round knockout of Daniel Pineda at the July show in Calgary. It was a long-time coming for the veteran, who spent most of his career fighting overseas in Shooto in Japan. He rebounded well after dropping his UFC debut in January to Felipe Arantes by decision in the latter’s native Brazil.
But after the win, Carvalho now feels like he’s “arrived.” And he hopes to prove that he belongs among the elite — and stay for a while.
“I’m happy. I didn’t want to leave this without going through this, without trying to be in the UFC,” Carvalho added. “It’s such a long time that they didn’t have featherweights. Eventually they merged and the best guys are here and that’s where I wanted to be. I wanted one last shot at competing with the best in the world and the UFC gave me that shot.
“I’m happy to be here and I’m going to try to stay here as long as I can.”
As for the key against Damm, he believes he just has to be sharp.
“My jiu-jitsu coach actually trains out of the gym (where Damm trains) in Brazil as well, so we have a similar line in our careers,”Carvalho said. “I saw him today and he was like, ‘I’m sorry we had to fight each other, because we all feel like we’re on the same line.’ But it’s all good, we’re professionals. I just have to cover all holes and be shaper then he is.”
And what will a win against him do for his career?