Traveling from California to Brazil to Abu Dhabi is a little bit more than a hop, skip and a jump. And for Ricardo Ramos, it wasn’t without its challenges. There were delays, misunderstandings and all manner of hassle in the day-plus journey. But, as with most things, Ramos took it all in stride.
“If you watch Troy—the movie—it’s just like when you’re going to war. It’s the preparation. It’s part of the process. Just stay focused, stay on the journey. It’s part of the process. I have to have fun with it.”
While dealing with airports generally can certainly summon some certain war-like impulses in most of us, I have to admit this is the first time I’ve heard a fighter compare dealing with TSA to the battle between fabled Greek armies. Ramos laughs, recognizing it’s probably just a fighter thing.
“Fighters have the spirit of war,” he smiles. “Many movies like Gladiator, Troy, Sparta …all these movies. For MMA fighters, I think we feel like warriors…we take inspiration from all these movies, for sure.”
Even when you’re on a layover.
Now he’s finally here in Abu Dhabi, just hours away from his prelim match vs Zubaira Tukhugov at Saturday’s UFC 267 and intent on righting the wrongs of his only other visit to UAE last summer. One of only two losses in his eight-fight UFC career, he landed on the wrong end of Lerone Murphy’s punches that evening.
“I’ll try to erase the last experience I had here. I feel like everything happens for some reason. Now I’m back here, having this opportunity again to do something different. You never know God’s plan, so we’ll see on Saturday. I truly believe it’s going to be a good win for me.”
Nearly every story or interview you’ll read about Ramos will reference his upbeat persona and optimistic outlook. It’s not hard to imagine he could make a second career in motivational speaking one day when the fight game has run its course. Perpetually smiling, he speaks with the slow, calm cheer of a surfer who has been catching all the best waves on a clear sunny day. His recipe for this disposition is a pretty simple one.
“Skateboard, go to the mountains, just go somewhere with my dogs. Spend time with my family and friends. That’s pretty much what I do.”
There was a time when, like any number of younger fighters, Ramos lived only to train and fight. But with age came balance.
“But I spend more time relaxing with my family, enjoying my family and not just being a psychopath, training, training, training. We’re humans, you know? Sometimes I feel it’s ok to enjoy a little bit of life.
“You’ve got to be around positive people,” he continues. “You’ve got to think positive things every day of the year, but especially in training camp. You’ve got to be confident and thinking about victory. And that’s what I do.”
Case in point: his most recent fight vs Bill Algeo last May in Las Vegas. Ramos had originally been preparing to fight this week’s Tukhugov, who was forced to pull out as the fight approached.
“When he canceled the first time, my coach said, ‘It’s ok, you’ll have more time to get ready. You’ll be more prepared for the fight, so it’s good.
“We’ve got to be ready for every situation for every fighter, so we always take the positive side of things. We cannot bring negative thoughts for our lives, because just a little bit of negativity on your camp or on your life can change everything.”
Coach was right. He outlasted Algeo to get the win that night, despite having little time to prepare for him. Then he went right back to training for Tukhugov when the fight was rebooked for this Saturday. Is there a little fatigue in preparing for the same opponent for so long?
“For sure, yeah. I feel like that should’ve already happened before. Now I’m ready, for sure. I’ve watched his fights two and three times through two and three camps. I just want to go. I just want to go there and fight, put everything I trained for into this fight and make it happen.”
But at the risk of sounding like he’s complaining, Ramos instead waxes philosophical.
“This must happen when it’s the time. That’s the correct time to happen. If it doesn’t happen before, it wasn’t supposed to happen.”
The Brazilian has a good feeling Saturday will indeed be the correct time. The homework has been done. Now it’s time for the test.
“He’s a guy who always pushes to win by points. Like his team, he likes to go and take down and use his ground-and-pound. He also uses a little bit of distance on the striking. He comes with some bombs.
“I know what I have to do. I know what I have to do in striking, what I have to do in jiu-jitsu, I know what I have to do in wrestling. I have to defend the takedowns. But it’s a fight, and we’ll feel inside the cage how to act. I saw all of his fights, I saw all of his moves but, for sure, I have weapons to fire back. But everything inside the fight is different. You’ve got to feel inside the fight how it’s going to be and have fast reactions.”
In other words, he has to be ready for anything, and it sounds like he is. But when pressed as to how he envisions it going when he closes his eyes at night, Ramos pretty clearly sees the KO.
“I feel like he’s going to give me this opportunity. And when I have this in my hand, I’ve got to just get it with all my energy.”
Don’t miss the ESPN+ special presentation of UFC 267: Blachowicz vs Teixeira on Saturday October 30th, 2021. Please note special broadcast times — prelims begin at 10:30am ET/7:30am PT, with the two-title fight main card starting at 2pm ET/11am PT.
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