Tapology: You made a successful drop to 170lbs by defeating Matt Brown. How did you feel at the new weight?
Ricardo Almeida: The weight was not really a problem. I brought in a nutritionist to help me with the diet and rehydrating. I felt great the morning of the fight, I felt great in the fight, I wasn’t really tired at all, and I felt like I was the bigger guy in there. Matt Brown is known for having a relentless attack and great conditioning, but I felt him gasping for air in the second round so I knew that when we hit the ground I could keep him there.
Tapology: I know you train with some of the best lightweights in the world in Frankie Edgar and Eddie Alvarez, as well as the welterweight champ, Georges St-Pierre, on occasion. How do those training relationships improve your game?
RA: I train with Frankie at least three times a week and Eddie comes down at least once or twice a week to do some sparring; we actually got a chance to spar the other day. Georges is a little more sporadic because he’s up in Canada, but any time we can make that happen we do. Sparring with Frankie and Eddie on a weekly basis definitely brings your overall game up.
It is inspiring for me to have those guys that are younger than me doing so well, training hard every day, so that pushes me to hold myself to a higher standard. I’ve never seen anyone take training as seriously as Frankie does. He is so competitive. It doesn’t matter what it is, that kid is trying to beat you at it, and when you spar, grapple, and wrestle at that intensity, it’s going to make everyone better.
Tapology: The biggest fight of your career kicks off next week against Matt Hughes. Do consider him to be the toughest opponent of your career or do you think his best days might be behind him?
RA: No doubt about it. People say that he’s slowed down—and he’s had some hiccups here and there—but at welterweight he’s really only lost to Georges St-Pierre. His fight with Thiago Alves wasn’t really at welterweight. I’m watching video on this guy and watching his fights and I’m thinking like, what are all of these people watching.
It’s MMA; when you win, you’re the greatest and when you lose, you’re done. I’m getting ready to fight the guy who was the most dominant welterweight ever.
Tapology: This fight has been suggested as a grudge match by some media outlets since you asked for the fight after Hughes defeated your trainer, Renzo Gracie. To clear it up, is there any ill will between the two of you?
RA: Not at all. I wouldn’t expect anything from him than to try to knock his opponent out [in the Gracie fight]. It just so happens that he has beaten a couple of guys from my team—actually, I felt that Matt Serra won his fight, but hey, I’m biased. I was in the corner with Renzo and it was very emotional to see the way that it ended, so I asked Joe Silva for that fight right away and they gave me my wish.
It’s just extra motivation, but whether I like or dislike Matt Hughes doesn’t really make a difference. If it was my mother in there, I’d be trying to choke her out and I expect nothing less from my opponent.
Tapology: Should you defeat Hughes, do you think you’ll be on the short list of contenders for the title?
RA: It’s a little bittersweet, because I do think that if I finish Hughes it will put me up there, but I train with Georges and he is a good friend. It’s not like I’m rushing in to try to fight that guy. I hope I don’t ever have to cross that bridge.
Tapology: But you said you’d choke your mom out if she were in there.
RA: I’m just hoping to never cross that bridge—let’s just put it that way.
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