Chatting with UFC middleweight 'Super' Mario Miranda one month after his first win inside the Octagon - over former 185-pound title challenger David 'The Crow' Loiseau at UFC 115 on June 12 - happiness engulfed all his words as he spoke of the training that resulted in a dominant TKO victory in 4:07 of the second round. It was a great second step into the organization after the loss of his unbeaten record via the hands of a 'Hurricane' named Gerald Harris in March.
The revamped Miranda spoke about how training with middleweight kingpin Anderson 'The Spider' Silva helped him for that fight and how he was emulating Chael Sonnen to reproduce what Silva would face defending his belt at UFC 117.
He also related his desire to visit his parents in the city of Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, something he hasn’t done for a long time and that was being arranged for October. And let’s face it, after a successful performance like the one he had in Canada, nothing would be better than meeting with so many beloved people in his homeland.
But all these feelings had a contrast that only a well-executed match can provide.
During those nine minutes and seven seconds that he kept battling Loiseau, no bruises or wounds were sustained and it kept Miranda able to fight again on short notice. However, looking at all the completed UFC cards, there were no spots to fill and it convinced him that he wouldn’t get called to compete in August.
"I was training, but I wasn't seeing a chance of doing it (fighting) two months after my fight in June," he said. "Even though I was planning to visit my parents in Brazil, I was willing to fight if an opportunity arose, and it did."
It seems that the power of positive thinking made this 'dream come true', as a series of changes that started with UFC Fight Night 22 and passed through UFC 119 ended up with 'Super' Mario taking on fellow countryman and former middleweight challenger Demian Maia this weekend on the UFC 118 card in Boston. And with the routine he was already under, the 'yes' for the call was welcomed.
"Of course it was a great surprise. All cards were full until October and fighting again inside the period of two months appeared when I was in the stage of willing it and training well."
With the match confirmed, plans of visiting his homeland fell apart, and Miranda kicked the gears up in the work that had been done recently. In shape, the Brazilian that stayed training in Washington for his 12 first fights and the majority of the last one, is now spending more time in Los Angeles.
"I just increased the physical aspects, but my conditioning was good and with an opponent defined, the focus was on the strategy for the fight," he says. "Staying in LA has been a great experience. I’m training with Silva, and by observing him I’m learning all the time."
More than just the great experience of training with the champ, Miranda can collect much information from Silva about Maia. Plus he's squaring off with a second straight former title challenger in Maia, which builds his reputation even more.
"There’s more attention," he says of the publicity. "They (Loiseau and Maia) deserved their shots and beating these guys is a clear display that I'm one of the outstanding men of this weight division."
In the meantime, Miranda knows that while there is nothing wrong with thinking about the future, victories and defeats are what separate successes from failures.
"I think everybody thinks about winning in life and dreams are very normal. But I need to overcome him, exactly the way I want to, before thinking about the repercussions (of a second win over a former title challenger)."
A Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt, South American wrestling champion (Bolivia, La Paz '99) and owner of heavy hands, on paper, Miranda comes with a more complete repertoire than Maia, a wizard of BJJ who has recently been working hard on his standup. This is a fight where one strategy is completely different from the other, as the more decorated BJJ practitioner, Maia, will avoid exchanges and work on the ground, while Miranda looks to keep the fight on the feet, even though his lone negative result saw the beginning of the end come during a trade of bullets. Whatever, 'Super' Mario is ready for everything.
"I don't know if I'm more complete, but I'm confident in all situations that the fight presents," he says. "The Harris fight is part of my past. I keep training and sharpening my hands, kicks and ground, and I won't hesitate."
With the confrontation between two Brazilian fighters being more common inside the UFC, the past feeling that this situation isn’t good has disappeared. Professionalism speaks louder than it did when the first Brazil vs. Brazil matches were booked.
"I think that in a sport like ours, it's hard to be a patriot. The majority of the fans support the fighter that they like more, and not just the nation the athlete comes from."
Still pursuing recognition in the sport and on the music scene, this fighter/musician splits his time, when one doesn't harm the other, between fighting and playing surdo at samba group Cafe com Leite. And when asked what kind of performance is more complicated when the term short-notice appears, he doesn't hesitate to say… "Fighting! (Laughs) Playing surdo doesn't need that much elaboration about strategy and it only depends on me, even on short notice. I think fans that follow the sport and who are watching full UFC cards already know who I'm, but with this fight I'll attract the attention of those who still don't know me."