It wasn’t easy for Andre Fialho to turn on the tape.
The welterweight banger used to be too embarrassed to watch back his defeats, but after two straight disappointing losses, he knew something had to change. So, he watched the tape.
“I didn’t enjoy it. I hated it,” Fialho told UFC.com. “But I’m grateful for it, to be honest. It’s making me the man I’m becoming and the athlete I want to be.”
Fialho fought five times in 2022, going 2-3. Watching those successes and failures in his freshman year in the Octagon opened Fialho’s eyes. It revealed to him that if he didn’t adapt to the higher level of competition in the UFC that he would come up short of his goals.
“It’s been a growing experience for me. A learning experience,” Fialho said. “I’m at such a great stage in the best organization in the world. The time for learning is now, I cannot let time keep passing by and not learn, especially after the last two losses that I had. It’s very important. I have to [learn].”
That’s why Fialho took some time off before his upcoming fight with Joaquin Buckley at UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Hill.
He didn’t think Jake Matthews would stand with him and he didn’t think that Muslim Salikhov was dangerous. Both fights haunt him, and he had to make adjustments in all departments in order to “present himself” the way he believes he can.
He wanted to figure out what the issues were, address them, and then put them into practice. Establishing the discipline to follow a gameplan and use the guidelines learned in preparation is, admittedly, something that Fialho hasn’t showcased thus far.
That’s why he isn’t overlooking Buckley. He’s studied him with a keen eye, and he’s looking to implement the full range of his skill set, rather than rely on his boxing. If he can do that and focus on the gameplan, he’s confident that he’ll be able to accomplish his end goal.
“The dog inside of me gets out and I just want to bang,” Fialho said with a smile. “I believe I have the weapons to stop him. I want to be patient at the beginning, but I doubt this fight will go the three rounds.”
Fialho has always had a feeling that he would meet Buckley in the center of the Octagon someday. That’s why the matchup didn’t surprise him one bit when the contract came his way.
“On paper, it has Fight of the Night written all over it,” Fialho said. “UFC knows what they do. They make great matchups and great fights. This is another one.”
“I think he’s a great athlete. Very strong. Very explosive. He’s dangerous with a lot of power but I don’t think he has a great (Fight) IQ; not that I’ve been showing that I have one, as well, but I have become a very smart fighter and I intend to do that this fight.”
And although Fialho has made the effort to mature in his approach to his fights, he can’t help but envision his bout with Buckley going one way in particular.
“That’s how my mind works,” Fialho began.
“I can only imagine about winning. About stopping him. About the strikes I’m going to hit him with that put him totally out. But I don’t want to envision that. I want to get the mentality that I’m going to get the three rounds. That the fight is going to last so I don’t gas myself out, so I don’t get frustrated and I don’t try to bang. I want to stay tight and technical, sharp, and fast.”
He pauses for a second before cracking a wry smile.
“I do believe I’m going to put him out.”
Will Fialho take a more measured approach versus Buckley, or will he go for broke?
Only one way to find out.
UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Hill took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 20, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!