TUF veteran Thiago Marreta talks UFC debut, move to middleweight

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Thiago Marreta counts on the support of the crowd at UFC Rio 4. Photo: UFC

When he got the news of the invite for UFC 163, Thiago Marreta felt a redoubled joy. Besides being in the leading MMA organization in the world, the TFT fighter will have the chance to make his debut in the Octagon next to home, as he is a resident of the Cidade de Deus neighborhood and the fight against Cezar Mutante will be held at the HSBC Arena in Barra da Tijuca, only seven kilometers from where he lives.

Marreta received the news last Thursday, while training and doing physical preparation with Phillip Lima. He hopes to have on his side the good vibes coming from the community that became famous worldwide as a result of the film directed by Fernando Meirelles in 2002:

“I did not know whether to run, jump, scream… I went crazy when I found out I was in the UFC. I cried a lot, I was overjoyed. The UFC will be here, right next to my house, so I think I will have the support of the fans. Despite it being a fight between two Brazilians, I think the carioca crowd will be in my favor. I live in the City of God, which is a well-known community, so I think the fans will relate to me. My UFC debut will almost literally be at home,” says the athlete.

Summoned to replace the American Clint Hester, who was injured during preparation for the event, Marreta will face the winner of the first edition of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, Cezar Mutante, who has a record of five wins and two losses. Thiago participated in the second edition of the program and was eliminated in the quarterfinals after losing to Leo Santos, the winner of the show.

Despite having a very tough opponent ahead, Marreta celebrates the chance to be able to start his career in the UFC against a fighter who has achieved fame in the world of MMA. For him, a victory over Mutante would be a nice starting point, and the TFT athlete believes that the result will come at the end of a striking showdown.

“I really like the idea of taking on Mutante precisely for the status, the visibility he has today in the UFC. It’s my chance to get a win over a renowned fighter right from the get-go. Like me, Mutante is a guy who likes to fight standing; he is tall and strong, so I think it will be a great fight, the way the fans like,” he explains.

Boasting a record of eight wins and one loss, including four KOs, Thiago will fight for the first time at middleweight, since he previously competed among welterweights. The focus of the move boils down to reducing the wear caused by the weight cut before fights, something that made him suffer a lot inside the TUF house. Nevertheless, Marreta still sees the bout in the new category as an experiment.

“I’m weighing 90kg, 6kg of which I have to lose prior to the fight, and it will not be a problem. It will be my first fight at 84kg, it will be a sort of test for me too. After this fight, I’ll sit down with my team and decide which category to compete in,” he says.

Thiago Marreta is the first athlete from Tatá Fight Team to compete in the UFC. He has won the title of WOCS, one of the three major MMA events in Brazil and which recently saw two of its fighters get hired by the UFC. Also in UFC 163, WOCS light heavyweight champion Francimar Bodão will face off against Ednaldo Lula, whereas José Maria “Sem Chance,” who last fought at WOCS Itajaí in May, will duel John Lineker. The complete line-up for UFC 163 can be seen below.

UFC 163: Aldo vs. Jung
August 3, 2013
HSBC Arena
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Main Card:
Jose Aldo (22-1) vs. Chan Sung Jung (13-3)
Lyoto Machida (19-3) vs. Phil Davis (11-1)
Cezar Ferreira (5-2) vs. Thiago “Marreta” Santos (8-1)
Thales Leites (20-4) vs. Tom Watson (16-5)
John Lineker (21-6) vs. Jose Maria Tome (33-3)

Prelims:
Vinny Magalhaes (10-6-1) vs. Anthony Perosh (13-7)
Amanda Nunes (7-3) vs. Sheila Gaff (10-5)
Sergio Moraes (7-2) vs. Neil Magny (8-1)
Ian McCall (11-4-1) vs. Iliarde Santos (27-1-1)

Prelims on Facebook:
Rani Yahya (18-7) vs. Josh Clopton (16-1-1)
Ednaldo Oliveira (13-1-1) vs. Francimar Barroso (15-3)
Viscardi Andrade (13-5) vs. Bristol Marunde (12-8)

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