by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Former Ultimate Fighter contestant Jorge Gurgel returns to the Octagon at UFC 73. On July 7 at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif., Gurgel’s opponent will be Diego Saraiva. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt has been training with the likes of Rich Franklin, Marcus Aurelio, Dustin Hazelett and Marcus Davis in preparation for his upcoming fight.

“Everything is going great. I’m healthy for the first time. Next week could not come any sooner,” said Gurgel. “I do sacrifice a lot of time training the [other] guys but I’m always doing what I need to do on the side. I don’t ever skip a training or rehab session. My knees are healthy now. I’m ready and I’m healthy.”

A former English teacher in his native country of Brazil, Jorge has come a long way prior to fulfilling his dream of fighting in the UFC. Growing up in Fortaleza in Northern Brazil, he began practicing Jiu-Jitsu at the age of sixteen. Gurgel spent a year in the U.S. as an exchange student in Chicago, Ill. until he was seventeen. Jorge later moved to Ohio when he was twenty to further his studies and strive for a future in fighting, a secret he kept from his parents.

After quitting school to pursue a professional fighting career, Jorge waited tables and taught at a local Jiu-Jitsu school to support himself. Gurgel competed in many organizations including Extreme Challenge, Freestyle Fighting Championships and King of the Cage before he was asked to participate on the second season of the Ultimate Fighter. Brimming with confidence, Gurgel was considered a favorite to win in his respective weight class.

Jorge sustained a knee injury during training prior to the taping of the show. The injury had an effect on the Ohio resident going into his first elimination match on the show. During his fight against Jason Von Flue, Gurgel’s knee buckled at one point and the aggravated injury forced Jorge to be more tentative. Von Flue went on to win a decision and Gurgel was eliminated from the show.

A year later, Jorge was fully rehabilitated from knee surgery and ready to make his Octagon debut. At Ultimate Fight Night 5, Gurgel faced Team Tomkins fighter Mark Hominick. Utilizing a conservative strategy of selective striking and evasion, Hominick won an unpopular decision over the much more aggressive Gurgel. Mark’s performance garnered boos from the crowd while Jorge made many new fans that evening.

Three months later, Gurgel finally earned his first victory in the UFC over former The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 contestant Danny Abbadi. With his first win behind him, and another healed up from another knee injury following the Abbadi fight, the “Bionic Brazilian” is ready for his next challenge. Next Saturday, fellow Brazilian Diego Saraiva will put Gurgel to the test.

“I’ve known Diego for 15 years. We’re from the same hometown in Brazil. There are no surprises in his Jiu-Jitsu game,” explained Gurgel. “I’m happy he’s taken the fight against me. I’m extremely confident, I’m in shape and I’m healthy. I know his capabilities, I know his strengths. I know what Diego’s good at and I’m looking forward to getting him out of his element. I’m sure he’s going to come out a much better fighter this time.”

An accomplished grappler in his own right, Jorge Gurgel received his black belt from Pride and ZST veteran Marcus Aurelio. “Marcus is my teacher; he gave me my black belt. When he’s in my school, he’s the boss. There’s a lot of loyalty; I demand a lot of respect from my students and I’m the same way with my teacher. Marcus, in my opinion, is the best grappler in the world. He’s going to be a force at 155 pounds. I’m excited to see him in the UFC and he’s the only person that I would never fight.”

The 155-pound division is bolstering with many new talented fighters. Gurgel finds himself as a fellow competitor in the deepest UFC weight class today. With so much competition, is Jorge concerned?

“I only worry about my next opponent. Everybody else is just everybody else. As the sport grows bigger, of course there are going to be many challenges coming from all around the world,” replied Gurgel. “My biggest concern…I don’t want the UFC to get watered down. I don’t want the UFC to have so many shows that the fans and even the fighters themselves lose track.”

Jorge Gurgel has come a long way to fulfill one of his dreams. With a new 12,800 square-foot training facility and a solid core of teammates, training partners and instructors, Jorge has proven that he is passionate about the sport and wants to establish his JG MMA Academy as one of the most reputable gyms in the U.S. At UFC 73, the hard working Brazilian from Fortaleza looks to add his name to the growing list of title contenders.

“My fights are always exciting. I’m always going to come out aggressive. I hope, after the main card is done, they air my fight afterwards. I just want to go in and perform the best I can [and] come out with a victory. I don’t ask for anything else.”