While it seems much of the MMA world was blown away by Claudio Puelles and his slick kneebar finish of Clay Guida at this past weekend's UFC Fight Night 205 event, the Peruvian lightweight said he doesn't necessarily understand all the excitement.
"It's just what I do all the time," Puelles (12-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) told MMA Underground. "It wasn't really a hard fight for me, I've got to be honest. Like, I'm not discrediting Clay because I know he has the tools to make it a hard fight for anyone. I was expecting a hard fight, and I came out with, like, 100 percent. Nothing hurts, so what I mean is he didn't give me this hard fight I thought he was going to give me, so I think about the fight and I'm like, 'It was pretty easy.'"
Easy or not, UFC officials were impressed enough with the effort that they awarded Puelles a $50,000 "Performance of the Night" award for his work. The 26-year-old prospect also collected an extra check in his UFC debut in 2018 but says he'll be handling the bonus cash a little different this time around. Now living and training in Florida, he wants ensure he's investing in what appears to be a very bright future.
"I'm going to keep it the smart way," Puelles said. "Now I'm like a little older. I'm smarter, so I'm going to keep it a little more on the investment side, being smart. I also live in the States now, so before a bonus for me in Peru, that could last for like two years, a year-and-a-half? Here, it's different. That money finishes very quick, so yeah, definitely, you've got to keep it smart. Make smart choices. Definitely don't go to the club and go crazy."
After falling short in his UFC debut and settling for runner-up status on "The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 3," Puelles has since rattled off five consecutive victories and appears to be a name to remember in a very deep lightweight division. Puelles admits it's been a little bit of a slow progression, which certainly wasn't helped by the COVID-19 pandemic, registering just three fights in his first four-plus years in the organization. However, he's now got three wins in just the past 10 months, and he believes things are trending in the right direction.
With one fight left on his current UFC deal, he's hoping a big renewal is on the way, and he knows after beating a UFC Hall of Famer in Guida, more high-profile matchups are on the horizon. Oh, and the way things are going, when the UFC does finally make its way to his native Peru, a card he once just dreamed of competing on, he's now hoping for a main event role.
"Listen, 'The Prince of Peru' is going to headline that card," Puelles said. "I'm going to headline that card. I remember like a couple of years back, I was dreaming of just being on the card. Like, if they put me in the main card, that would have been amazing, but even prelims, whatever. But now, by the time it happens, I'm going to be main event. I'm going to be headlining that."
The UFC doesn't have immediate plans for a Peruvian debut, so Puelles still has some time to firmly establish that position. In the meantime, Puelles isn't calling anyone out. He'll let the UFC make the decision on who he faces next, but he's eyeing a late summer return.
"It could be before this, I don't know exactly, but I would say September because because of the downtime" Puelles said. "I'm going to go to Peru, so I'm going to lose all of May, so I would say September to get a good camp. It could be before. Who knows? Depends on what they give me, but I would kind of shoot for that."
To see the full interview with Puelles, check out the video above.