"I need to prove I belong here. I have my new chance and I do not intend
to waste it, as I am super prepared and ready to erase any kind of
misconception about Luis Ramos, the fighter." - Luis Ramos
If we play with numbers, when the issue is a knockout or a technical knockout, we could say that 95% of mixed martial arts viewers love nothing more than seeing a fight end in that fashion. That highlight reel moment which marks the meeting of a fist, knee, or kick with an opponent’s jaw or head is usually unforgettable whether it comes by a “lucky” punch, a beautiful combination or that sometimes unfair trade of bullets on the feet when you say, "Someone is gonna drop."
But don’t forget, we are playing with numbers, so to reach the 100% we need the 5% of those who don't enjoy or celebrate such a result – the victim of the knockout, his camp, his family, his friends, and his supporters.
Dispatching four opponents by way of TKO in two rounds or less, Ramos tasted the acid of the other side as he ate two quick (T)KOs. The first (in 2009) halted a four fight winning streak, teaching him an important lesson about keeping himself alert from the first second of an MMA match; the second was in his Octagon debut last August against fellow countryman Erick Silva. By coincidence, both defeats came in less than one minute, but the similarities stop right there, as Ramos is quick to point out.
"It’s 50-50 when you step in there," he says. "Imagine if I had beaten Silva; the word now would be 'Ramos is a phenom.' That didn’t happen, but I accepted the fight because I knew I had the chance to win and I wanted to prove that I belong in the UFC."
Just 40 seconds into first stanza, ‘Beicao’ was saved by the referee from unnecessary punishment, and the talk emanating from the fans was exactly the opposite of what he said earlier, as some said he didn’t look to be on the level of a UFC fighter. It reminded him of the adage that you’re only as good as your last fight, and after dropping to 19-7 he realized that reaching the big show has its consequences.
"You need to see where you committed the error; I thought he (Silva) would shoot for a single or double leg and he caught me." Ramos said. "You know, I have a daughter (Manuela, four years old), and she asked me if I won the fight in UFC Rio and I said no. She doesn't know how I lost, but the situation is terrible. It made me depressed, and the way I lost left openings for doubts about me, and arriving home without a smile for the victory, without seeing the smile of my joy, it really put me down."
"Each fight you have to prove something," he continues. "(UFC President) Dana White went backstage to check the fighters, he shook my hand and I need to prove I belong here. I have my new chance and I do not intend to waste it, as I am super prepared and ready to erase any kind of misconception about Luis Ramos, the fighter."
After taking time off due to a suspension for the KO, Ramos had a successful camp that resembled the ones that rendered him the world Shooto title (168 pounds) and a spot at UFC 134. The Brazilian's routine included six days a week of strength and physical preparation focused on sharpening his ground game, where he grappled using his Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt and Luta livre black belt, along with striking work where he boxed and traded Muay Thai with some of the best like Jose Aldo, Giovanni Diniz, Diego Nunes, Felipe Olivieri, Marlon Sandro, Eduardo Dantas and many others who are members of the renowned Nova Uniao team, led by tactician Andre Pederneiras. And of course, he didn’t abandon work in Riddle's strong suit of wrestling.
"I went to the gym around 8am and left it sore (laughs) around 7pm," Beicao explains. "Having more time to prepare for a specific opponent in Riddle helped a lot. I looked at his wrestling and his stance - a right hand in a southpaw base - and we mimicked his background, positioning me better. This way you don't focus only on what he can't or can do, so you can do much more. The fact of UFC 142 happening two weeks after 141 helped too. Nunes is fighting on the same card I am, and Aldo and Caio Magalhaes are going to perform in Rio de Janeiro, so we didn't have down time, as training camps were the hot topic."
With Riddle coming off two losses by decision and Ramos looking to rebound from the devastating technical knockout against Silva, a lot is on the line for both fighters. The pressure for a needed victory could send the match down different roads for the Brazilian and the American. One of them can impose his will by going into conservative mode and guaranteeing a safe victory, or the welterweights can go forward and bring to the table what was missing in their last Octagon appearances, a furious meeting crowned by a winning finish. For Ramos, that is the key point and at the end of the day he just wants to go home and see a smile on Manuela's face.
"Like I said before, I think I need to prove something at UFC 141, something that got me my Shooto world title and rendered me eight fight finishes," he says. "I expect Riddle to try to drag me against the cage and then take me down, but I have the antidote for it, as I did my homework, and each class during this training camp matured me. I tattooed Manuela's name, I gave up our weekends together because of training, and I promised her the victory. And you know you can't break a promise made to a kid."