Cesar Almeida reacts to new gloves debuting at UFC 302: ‘It didn’t change much’

UFC debuts new gloves on Saturday in New Jersey, but Brazilian middleweight Cesar Almeida had a head start compared to other UFC 302 competitors.

Almeida faces Roman Kopylov on the preliminary portion of Saturday’s pay-per-view event in Newark, N.J., but was one of the fighters to wear the new UFC gloves as part of a test on the promotion’s Contender Series in 2023. The new gloves were officially announced in April 2024, but were discreetly tested by fighters on last year’s shows at the UFC APEX.

“I’m used to them already,” Almeida told MMA Fighting. All fighters competing at UFC 302 received new gloves to wear in camp for the event. “We used in training, even did the wraps with the cutman at the UFC PI, but it didn’t change much. Maybe it’s a bit lighter, some veterans complained about it. But, to me, it’s the same thing.”

Almeida won a decision over Lucas Fernando on Contender Series wearing the new gloves but switched back to the classic UFC gloves for his octagon debut in April 2024, knocking out Dylan Budka. Almeida now returns to wearing the new gloves at UFC 302.

“I’ve hit pads using them, I’ve grappled with them,” Almeida said, “and it protects your wrist a little bit more, it’s smaller here and there, but it doesn’t change much in my opinion, to be honest.”

The Brazilian striker, who holds kickboxing wins over the likes of Alex Pereira and ex-GLORY contender Serkan Ozcaglayan, hunts for his second UFC win after pocketing a performance bonus in his April debut for the second-round stoppage of Budka.

Kopylov has never been knocked out before in MMA, but Almeida knows “there’s always a first time for everything.”

“A win [by knockout] will put me up there already, but we’re preparing to fight three rounds,” Almeida said. “I’m training to end it early, but my head is prepared to go three rounds if I have to. I don’t think he will try to take me down, but this is MMA now. You can see the numbers. I think he will try to keep it where he’s more comfortable, which is the stand-up fight, and so will I.

“I think [UFC] wants to see ‘Cesinha’ the striker this time. I wasn’t able to show that because my previous opponents tried something different. I didn’t have the chance to stand and brawl for real in the UFC. It’s going to be a kickboxing match with small gloves, and that’s what people want to see.”

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