Third time lucky? Heavyweight prospect Jailton Almeida hopes his patience will be rewarded on home soil come January 21, as his matchup against Shamil Abdurakhimov – twice scratched – has been tentatively scheduled for the UFC 283 prelims as part of a 15-fight card this month.
Long-awaited Abdurakhimov matchup is next for Almeida
Despite two withdrawals in the final three months of 2022, one due to visa issues and another for undisclosed reasons, 31-year-old Brazilian heavyweight Jailton Almeida’s stock has still risen.
First known to the wider MMA audience for his R2 submission win over Nasrudin Nasrudinov on Dana White’s Contender Series in September 2021, he scored three first-round stoppages over a seven-month period last year – making himself known in a division lacking quality depth.
Matchups against Abdurakhimov and Shamil’s compatriot Maxim Grishin were planned, but both pulled out on separate occasions – four in total.
On the topic of this persistent occurrence, he laughed when speaking to MMAFighting.com:
“If [Abdurakhimov] doesn’t come, it will be the third time he gives up. I watched some videos on Instagram pages posting Russians and saw him training. He’s training, so should come to the fight. He can’t run now, right?
It’s the third time already, I don’t know what’s going on. Come injured, anyway you can, but come and fight. I wouldn’t say run, I mean that something unexpected can always happen.
[Fans] say he’s running, but things happen, just like to Grishin. They think he’s running scared, but I don’t think so. He’s a man, and so am I.”
Having made his promotional debut at light-heavyweight, he’s since weighed in at 224 and 216.5lbs and will campaign as a lighter heavyweight contender going forward.
After testing his boxing skills with compatriot and fellow UFC big man Carlos Felipe in training, Jailton spoke about how Abdurakhimov represents a good matchup for him stylistically:
“He’s one of those Russians that doesn’t defend takedowns, that fight with Blaydes, he quickly got to his back but had no efficiency in submitting or finishing with the ground-and-pound, and that’s my thing.
I go for the submission or ground-and-pound until he gives me the position I want, and I’m working my boxing with Carlos [Felipe] – so I’m definitely going to put on a show.”
41-year-old veteran Shamil Abdurakhimov, ranked #14 in the promotion’s heavyweight rankings at present, was a 15-2 professional before making his UFC debut back in 2015. Since then, he’s gone 5-5 – but that win-loss ratio is clouded by an existing three-fight losing streak.
All were TKO finishes inside two full rounds, against perennial contender Curtis Blaydes, Chris Daukaus and most recently his surging compatriot Sergei Pavlovich. That doesn’t bode well for him against another in-form opponent in Almeida, who I wrote this about last September:
While another impressive display, he was originally set to face Shamil Abdurakhimov before visa issues restricted the #15 ranked heavyweight from travelling ahead of this contest. As such, they’ll likely rebook it – Almeida wants Abu Dhabi (UFC 280) or UFC 283 in his native Brazil.
UFC 283, as it stands
First PPV event of 2023 – UFC 283 on January 21, live from Rio de Janeiro’s Jeunesse Arena
Main card: 3am Sunday
Light-heavyweight: Glover Teixeira vs. Jamahal Hill for the vacant title
Flyweight: Deiveson Figueiredo (c) vs. Brandon Moreno (ic) for the flyweight title
Welterweight: Gilbert Burns  vs. Neil Magny 
Women’s Flyweight: Jessica Andrade [4 at 115lbs, 6 at strawweight] vs. Lauren Murphy 
Light-heavyweight: Paul Craig  vs. Johnny Walker 
Prelims: 1am Sunday
Light-heavyweight: Mauricio Rua vs. Ihor Potieria
Lightweight: Thiago Moises vs. Melquizael Costa
Middleweight: Brad Tavares vs. Gregory Rodrigues
Heavyweight: Shamil Abdurakhimov  vs. Jailton Almeida
Early prelims: 11pm Saturday
Welterweight: Mounir Lazzez vs. Gabriel Bonfim
Bantamweight: Luan Lacerda vs. Cody Stamann
Lightweight: Terrance McKinney vs. Ismael Bonfim
Welterweight: Warlley Alves vs. Nicolas Dalby
Women’s Featherweight: Josiane Nunes  vs. Zarah Fairn Dos Santos
Bantamweight: Saimon Oliveira vs. Daniel Marcos
Picture source: Getty Images