Middleweights Ronny Markes and Andrew Craig will be squaring off this Saturday, Jan. 19, at UFC on FX7.
Not having fought since February 2012, when he fractured his hand while fighting Aaron Simpson, Markes guarantees that he has undergone an evolution during this time. And he says his opponent’s pristine record doesn’t bother him.
Craig, despite being undefeated with an 8-0 record, is rather unknown to the Brazilian public. Markes, too, was once undefeated in his career. The Brazilian rattled off seven back-to-back wins and was considered by the international press to be one of the most promising Brazilians in the weight class.
“I know he’s going to enter the octagon full of confidence,” Markes said recently. “I’ve been in his position before, and being unbeaten does indeed give you a certain confidence. But I’m working really hard to put an end to his run. And if all goes well, I’ll be the first to put a loss on his record. He’s come out on top of Brazilian fighters. He has two knockouts over Brazilian fighters. I want to change that.”
For having gone for so long without fighting, Markes fattened up to 233 — a staggering 48 pounds above his weight class. According to his coach, Jair Lourenço, the head of Kimura/Nova União Academy, Markes’ weight is no longer cause for concern. Lourenço was in Rio de Janeiro to accompany Markes and Renan Barão, another of his students. Barão is currently getting ready to defend his interim bantamweight title against Michael McDonald on Feb. 15 at UFC on Fuel 7.
To Lourenço, the nearly one-year layoff of Markes’ wasn’t entirely detrimental.
“The good part is that we managed to get him to evolve technically,” he said. “Ronny could work in peace, without the pressure of an upcoming fight, so we managed to focus more on his game. When an athlete trains for a fight, he focuses a lot on the opponent’s game and only evolves for the fight in question. The technical evolution Ronny has undergone during this period is huge. He’s also improved physically and in terms of dexterity. For sure he’ll move around a lot differently this fight and surprise everyone.”
Besides returning to the octagon, Markes has good reason to put on his best performance this Saturday. It will be his first UFC fight on Brazilian soil, and the fighter knows he’ll have the crowd rooting for him to knock out Craig.
“I hope to have the Brazilian fans on my side every which way: on Twitter, Facebook, [and] there at Ibirapuera when I’m walking out to the octagon,” he said. “It will make me all the stronger to help me get the win for our country.”
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