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SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - MAY 31: (L-R) Demian Maia punches Alexander Yakovlev in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at the Ginasio do Ibirapuera on May 31, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Training: We stepped up the training and it’s got even more intense than last time. I don’t know what they’re doing, but they’re trying to kill me. It’s something people have never even seen, and I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been.
When and why did you start training for fighting? I started because I love to fight and love competition, but I felt that the ring and Octagon would be a better test for my skill. The gym keeps me disciplined and shows my kids that there is a time and a place to fight, and why it is important to stay disciplined, healthy and focused.
Accomplishments in pro competition? 2004 Gladiator Championship light heavyweight division champion.
Favorite grappling technique: I like to lift people off their feet and slam them into the ground and strike away.
Favorite striking technique: Uppercuts
Do you have any heroes? My mother and grandmother because of the values and code of conduct that they instilled in me. They taught me that discipline would help me to never give up until I got what I wanted.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? It is the best level that I can test myself at. I want to bring back the excitement to the Octagon of guys who are just raw and tough and hungry to win.
What was your job before you started fighting? Radio broadcasting and community activist.