Jailton Almeida reflects on mistake against Curtis Blaydes, vows to ‘put on a great show’ at UFC 302

Jailton Almeida is ready to answer important questions at UFC 302.

Almeida returns against Alexandr Romanov in the main card of Saturday’s pay-per-view show in Newark, looking to rebound from his first UFC defeat after losing to Curtis Blaydes via TKO stoppage. Almeida won his previous six UFC bouts, and was already dealing with criticism following a lackluster decision win over Derrick Lewis four months prior.

Blaydes had only been taken down once in his previous 15 UFC fights, but Almeida was successful in nine of his 12 takedown attempts in his first five minutes against Blaydes. He couldn’t capitalize with a finish, however, and Blaydes stuffed Almeida’s sole takedown attempt in the second round before finishing the Brazilian talent with hammerfists.

“The Curtis Blaydes fight taught me a lot about ground control,” Almeida told MMA Fighting. “That was the only thing missing. We’ve worked a lot on that part so I can put it into practice [at UFC 302]. We’ll see how the fight plays out. If [Romanov] comes to grapple, we’ll grapple too.”

Almeida admits he’s putting pressure upon his own shoulders going into UFC 302 to prove a point and win back the fans who enjoyed the finish-heavy style he employed early in his UFC career, dominating and stopping opponents and barely getting hit in the process.

“We’ll come out with his victory Saturday to show the fans we’re still in the game, that we’re still going for the title, still climbing the ladder,” Almeida said. “It’s going to be a great show. I’m taking that in consideration. I have to put on a great show after what was said after the loss. I have to go in there and show my power.”

After starting his UFC career by jumping between heavyweight and light heavyweight, Almeida is committed to staying at heavyweight moving forward, and is gaining mass in the process. The Brazilian weighed 224 pounds for his first UFC heavyweight appearance but ballooned up to 241 pounds for the Blaydes bout. Almeida tipped the scales at that same weight at UFC 302, and hopes to reach his goal of 253 pounds in the future.

Romanov is a big heavyweight, measuring in at 264 pounds for his past two bouts against Alexander Volkov and Blagoy Ivanov, but Almeida sees him as a great matchup style-wise.

“Tybura took him down,” Almeida said. “Volkov stopped his takedowns and took him down and finished with ground and pound, knocking him out. Ivanov also took him down, but [Romanov] got back up because Ivanov didn’t go for it.”

Almeida sees the UFC heavyweight division as still a bit too messy to predict a likely next move on his climb back to title contention. Blaydes, his UFC sole nemesis, will now challenge Tom Aspinall for the interim heavyweight belt at UFC 304 in Manchester.

“I don’t know what’s next because division is too confusing,” Almeida said. “We have to wait and see what will happen. Ciryl Gane is doing a movie, like he said, and we have to wait and see what he says. And what the boss will say too. We’re waiting.”

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