Ricardo Almedia was cornered.
Trapped amongst a bevy of fans, he had nowhere to go. Normally the Renzo Gracie protege tends to shy away from looking at past performances, especially losses, but at a recent Fan Expo held in New York City, Almeida had no choice but to suck up his pride and witness his most recent defeat.
“I usually don’t like to watch fights when I lose, even if it’s a fight that I didn’t look very good and I wasn’t happy with my performance,” Almeida told MMAWeekly Radio, concerning his last outing against UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes in August.
“But actually, I went to the Expo like a couple of weeks after my fight, and they were playing my fight on the big screen as I was signing autographs, so I couldn’t runaway from no one.”
Forced to come face-to-face with the fourth loss in his professional career as a mixed martial artist, albeit in a somewhat embarrassing public setting, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt was able to come to terms with what transpired. The former welterweight champion was able to drop Almeida with a left hook midway through the first round, capitalizing on the dazed fighter, Hughes pounced and secured a Schultz headlock (an old school wrestling maneuver made popular by 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Dave Schultz) choking Ricardo to sleep in a shocking upset.
Hughes garnered “Submission of the Night” for his efforts, while Almeida lost for the first time in the 170-pound division. The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak inside the Octagon for the Brazilian. It’d be easy for him to dwell on the past, but he took the hard road, analyzing his defeat in hopes to not make the same mistake in future endeavors.
“I made some mistakes,” Almeida couldn’t help but admit. “I made mistakes back-to-back that cost me the fight. I got hit with a big left hook, and then I tried to get off the ground too quick. Then he caught me with that front headlock choke, and that was it.
“It’s part of competing, we don’t like losing. I remember all of my losses and I don’t remember much about some of my wins. You just take the notes, learn from the lessons, and move forward.”
With that bout in the past, there’s only one way to go, and that’s forward. Almeida will now meet UFC veteran T.J. Grant this Saturday at UFC 124: St-Pierre vs. Koscheck 2, before a soldout crowd at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Grant, a Canadian native, will have the home-turf advantage, which is something that Almeida is all too familiar with. At UFC 111 this past March, Almeida defeated “The Ultimate Fighter” veteran Matt Brown, submitting him in the second round before a ruckus crowd in Newark, N.J. The “Big Dog” owns and operates an academy in Hamilton, N.J., giving him the hometown support, which he says was somewhat of a disadvantage.
“I think it’s easier fighting away, and we don’t have the pressure of the home crowd,” said the 34-year-old.
“Fighting in New Jersey, when I fought in the stadium, I definitely felt a lot more pressure to perform. This one, the pressure is on him. He’s in front of his crowd, and he’s the one that has to carry that on his shoulders. I’m just going to go out there and fight my fight. Crowds don’t bother me.
“Someone booing you or not, it doesn’t matter. Ultimately it’s just me and T.J. in the Octagon, that’s it.”
Grant has won two of his last three bouts in the Octagon and has proved a formidable opponent for everyone he faces. Win or lose, when you fight T.J. Grant, you know your in a fight. Almedia though, is up for the challenge.
“T.J. really is well rounded,” proclaimed the former King of Pancrase.
“He’s got good strikes and he’s a pretty high-level wrestler, especially coming from Canada. It’s just another fight. You don’t prepare for a fighter without looking at his techniques. There’s certain things he does well with his striking, a couple of things that he does with his wrestling, and a couple of things that he does in jiu-jitsu.
“It’s just about coming out there and neutralizing that and not getting caught, not making any mistakes.”