But a lot has changed since.
Nascimento stumbled along the way in regional shows before finally joining the UFC a decade later. Now he’s more mature than ever for the challenges he’s facing inside the octagon, and one of the secrets behind that growth, Nascimento said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast, is helping Chute Boxe leader Diego Lima as cornerman.
“It’s past time since I heard I was a MMA prospect, this kid coming up — time has really passed,” Nascimento said with a laugh. “Thank God I managed to make a name for myself in MMA. I’m with Diego Lima for 16 years now, I’m the longest tenured athlete with him since he started, so we have great chemistry together. A lot of fighters trust me and like having me in their corner. That’s great for me too.”
Chute Boxe currently has 10 fighters under UFC contract, including former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, and Nascimento has worked in their corners many times over the past few years. “Puro Osso”, whose UFC win streak in the flyweight division sits at two following victories over Jake Hadley and Carlos Hernandez, will fly to Mexico in February to corner Daniel Santos and Felipe dos Santos.
Being an active fighter and cornerman helps him in multiples ways, he explained, because “the vision we have from the outside is different. It helps in trusting what the [cornerman] is saying. Sometimes we’re in the octagon and we hear what they say but we try to follow the strategy we have inside our heads. And being a cornerman, I say what my fighter really needs to hear. In fighting, I’m like, ‘I’ll listen to what he’s saying because it’s more likely to happen.’ That learning is very important for us.”
Nascimento won’t be in Oliveira’s corner for the former champ’s next bout, but he’s confident that “do Bronx” will bring the UFC belt back to the team in 2024 if he’s next in line for Islam Makhachev. They were expected to rematch in October after Oliveira finished Beneil Dariush in June, but the Brazilian withdrew 10 days out due to a cut.
“The whole team is working for that,” Nascimento said. “We’re just waiting for the date, time, and place, and we’ll be there. It’s the fight that makes the most sense for everyone involved, UFC, Charles and Makhachev. It really is a tough fight, he’s the champion today, but I think Charles has a different mindset now on what needs to be done. The idea is not to give [Makhachev] any openings.”