As the saying goes, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. So when Reginaldo Vieira was eliminated from The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 4 after losing a decision in the quarterfinals to Matheus Nicolau, Vieira stayed in shape and hoped for an opportunity to get lucky.
“I asked God every day to give me a second chance but I was not waiting with my arms crossed,” Vieira said through translator Elisabete Miranda de Lemos. “I kept my diet, my training and I helped my friends in training too, and God heard my prayers. It was incredible.”
Whether Vieira got some divine intervention or not, he still had a fight to win when he replaced the injured Leandro Higo, and he did just that, taking a two-round decision over Matheus Mattos. Next up was a semifinal matchup with Bruno Korea, and again Vieira came up big, submitting his opponent in the second round. On Saturday, it’s a meeting with Dileno Lopes for the TUF Brazil 4 bantamweight title and a UFC contract, and after more than six years as a pro, Vieira’s hard work is paying off.
“I was always competing in Muay Thai, boxing and MMA, always trying to raise my level, and I treated these competitions as a preparation for the UFC, believing that one day I will get there, and that was what happened,” Vieira said.
Born and raised in Sao Paulo, where he still makes his home today, Vieira got a late start in combat sports, starting in Jiu-Jitsu at 22. Ten years later, the former kitchen assistant with the 13-3 pro record is now on the verge of competing in the same promotion as one of his idols – and his coach on TUF Brazil 4 – former UFC and PRIDE heavyweight champion “Minotauro” Nogueira.
“Being on the show with him was very cool,” Vieira said. “I started fighting at the time when ‘Minotauro’ was dominating PRIDE and I am a super fan of him. All the other coaches were also fantastic.”
It wasn’t an time on the show by any means for Vieira, though, and it had nothing to do with actually fighting four times in six weeks, but in getting to those fights.
“It was a great experience,” Vieira said of TUF, “but I felt sick every day and had a bruised rib as well. Maybe dieting for too long to make weight four times in one month and one week, made it worse but thank God everything worked out and he did not let me give up.”
At the very least, despite being away from his family and not feeling one hundred percent, Vieira did make some friends on the show, saying, “All the athletes were very respectful to each other and very cool.”
He’s a fan of his opponent, Team Shogun’s Dileno Lopes, as well, describing him as “a warrior with good jiu-jitsu. A great fighter.”
Mixing Lopes with Vieira, who possesses what he calls an “aggressive and violent” style, makes this one a Fight of the Night candidate on a card filled with some of Brazil’s best. Just to know he’s on the same card as the likes of the Nogueira brothers, Shogun Rua, Bigfoot Silva and Demian Maia isn’t only something to scratch off a bucket list though. For Vieira, this is a life changing night, one he may have only imagined a few short years ago.
“Fighting on TUF opened the doors for me to make a dream to fight in UFC a reality,” he said. “There were people who once saw my work as something vulgar, and today these same people ask me to take a photo and wish me good luck. That changed view of people has given me more recognition today, and now the next step is to improve my living conditions and to give the best for my family.”