Rob Font doesn’t take it personally when everyone who hears about his Saturday bout with Thomas Almeida thinks somebody is getting knocked out. That means a 50-50 chance that the New England power hitter could be the one on the wrong end of a highlight reel finish, but Font doesn’t mind those odds.
“We’re all fight fans first, so I understand that these type of matchups are the bangers,” he said. “We’re both coming off a loss and we’ve both got to go out there and put on a show. He puts on a show anyway and I feel like I naturally put on a show as well, so it’s a pick ‘em. I’m excited about it, and I just can’t wait to get in there. He’s shown that he’s tough and he’s been in a lot of wars, but I think that might go against him because he gets hit a lot and he gets dropped almost every other fight, so I think if I can put my hands on him and slowly put him away, I’ll get the W for sure.”
But what happened to the Rob Font who had fallen in love with the ground game and wanting to add some more submissions to his resume?
“I’ve got that up my sleeve,” he laughs. “Hopefully we don’t have to pull it out in this fight. I’ve got some tricks, so if I do have to use them, they’re there.”
But otherwise, Font is down to bang with Brazil’s Almeida, who is coming off a decision defeat to Jimmie Rivera last July. That month, Font picked up his first submission win as a member of the UFC roster when he beat Douglas Silva de Andrade via guillotine choke, but in October, he was the victim of the guillotine against Pedro Munhoz.
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“That was me just backing out with my hands down,” he said. “I backed up with my hands down, threw a punch and got caught. It was funny, we were joking around, (New England Patriots QB) Tom Brady struggles in Miami and I struggle in Brazil. (Laughs) It’s one of those things. I don’t know what it is, but I struggle in Brazil and I’ve got to figure it out. But in that one, I was doing my thing – I was putting my hands on him, touching him with my jab, landing punches, and I think it was a little mental break I took. Next thing I know, I got hit with a shot and then I took a sloppy shot on a guy you don’t do that on and I paid for it.”
Font knew what went wrong as soon as it happened, but at this level, mistakes are dealt with swiftly and emphatically, and that’s what Munhoz did. So while the 30-year-old wasn’t happy with the defeat, he did grab what positives he did from it.
“I was upset that I got a little sloppy, but I wasn’t too upset about the loss because it was a good learning experience,” he said. “In the top 15, you’ve got to be flawless. You mess up for a second and you pay for it.”
The same goes for fighting someone with significant stopping power like Almeida. But if Font needs an extra edge, he’ll have it at TD Garden, less than 15 minutes away from his home in Woburn. In January 2016, Font fought his second UFC fight in the venue, stopping Joey Gomez in two rounds. It was a good night for the six-year pro, and he’s hoping for another one this weekend.
“The crowd really embraced me,” he said of his first Garden bout. “I felt comfortable, the whole week went smooth, I had home-cooked meals, and everything was great. And the arena’s amazing. There’s a lot of history there, so you get to feel that, and I fought early in the card, so as the hometown guy, the crowd was so loud. It’s gonna be another one with this. There’s a lot of Brazilians out here in Boston, so I know there will be a lot of guys rooting for him, and obviously the people we bring in for me, Calvin (Kattar) and Kyle (Bochniak), we’re gonna have a good squad, so it’s gonna be a show.”
As for everything that will come if he beats Almeida, Font doesn’t even have that on his radar. He knows what it’s like to lose focus, and that’s not going to happen again.
“My only focus right now is to put Almeida away,” he said. “That’s all I’m thinking about. You have to stay focused for 15 minutes straight. You can’t take any mental breaks at all in that cage. So my mind is only set on him and getting the W, and then going from there.”