SAO PAULO – Despite his "Submission of the Night" win over Wagner Prado at Saturday's UFC on FX 7 event, Ildemar Alcantara was never expected to be a UFC light heavyweight. As it turns out, he might not be a middleweight, either.
Following Saturday's event at Sao Paulo's Ibirapuera Gymnasium, Alcantara revealed he's actually got his eye on a run at 170 pounds.
"I actually want to fight the best, and that's why I'm here," Alcantara said through a translator. "But I intend to fight in the 170-pound class. ... I intend to do the next fight at 170."
Ildemar (18-5 MMA, 1-0 UFC), the brother of fellow UFC fighter Yuri Alcantara, is a Brazilian native who competed at middleweight on his home country's regional scene. But when a chance arose to replace injured light heavyweight Roger Hollett against Prado (8-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) on less than two weeks' notice, the 30-year-old decided the reward was worth the risk.
Moving up a division meant there was no need to cut weight, and the 6-foot-1 "Marajo" registered just 201 pounds at Friday's official weigh-in ceremony.
On fight night, Alcantara appeared a little bit hesitant, and he admits the enormity of the moment affected his early work.
"I did feel a little bit of the jitters in the beginning," Alcantara said. "I was kind of nervous, I'd say, but then once I started getting into it, (I was OK)."
In the second round, Alcantara seized his opportunity. A series of failed choke attempts from his opponent left him and Prado scrambling on the floor, and Alcantara latched on to a leg in hopes of cranking a toehold. The initial results failed, but Alcantara deftly moved his opponent's leg under his shoulder, which resulted in an impromptu kneebar that ended the fight and ultimately earned the undersized underdog a $50,000 bonus check as the evening's "Submission of the Night" winner.
"It's very, very important to fight in an event such as UFC," Alcantara said. "To be able to start with a submission, that's even better."
Alcantara now boasts an eight-fight win streak and is 12-1 in his past 13 appearances. Regardless of his performance at Saturday's event, he was fully expected to move back down to a more natural weight class.
As it turns out, following the biggest win of his career, Alcantara may be taking it a step further.
"When I walked in, I felt those jitters," Alcantara said. "I'm at the UFC. I got very happy to be in the UFC, and I'm even happier that I made bonus money.
"I never thought that in my debut, it wouldn't only be my right foot forward – it was both feet forward, so I'm really, really happy. I've lost my words, but I really say thank you."