Spiderís Lair- an interview with Saul Almeida
June 29, 2012
A pro since 2008 featherweight prospect Saul l Almeida (12-2) bypassed the amateur scene on October18th of that year and had his had raised in victory three rounds later. Born in Brazil but raised in the town of Framingham 20 miles west of Boston, Almeida blended the disciplines of karate, jiu-jitsu and wrestling to create his own unique style before the age of 16. The proactive career moves of winning a Bellator open tryout and flying across country to train with the famed Team Black House has Almeida on the brink of stardom in 2012.
After four years of bouncing between lightweight and featherweight, the 6'1 Almeida and his team have decided on a permanent home at 145 pounds. Now 23 years Almeida believes he is one to two wins away from a UFC contract and his next life changing moment.
ULTMMA.com spoke with Almeida about working with Black House, his relationship with Bellator and the most overlooked part of his fighting style.
Almeida is ranked in the number 5 spot in the 2012 edition of the ULTMMA50; a pound for pound listing of the top 50 prospects in MMA.
ULTMMA.com: What was the process on no longer competing at 155 pounds?
Saul Almeida: My weight class is 145. There is no reason to anymore, just to go out of a weight class to get a fight. I'm best at 145 and I haven't lost there yet. I feel really good and I don't run into any troubles when I make the cut. That is where I will be from now on.
ULTMMA: When you fought at 155 was it mostly the promoters idea to do it?
Almeida: They offer it to me and I've won there, just not as good. I feel like I'm fast at 155 but I still feel like I shouldn't take fights up there.
ULTMMA: Explain how your relationship working with Black house first started.
Almeida: I first went to train with them in San Diego back in 2010. The connection came through a guy with out here who was a old friend of Ed Soares for 20 years. He hooked me up with that. From there I went to L.A and spent two months training with Anderson Silva for his first fight with Chael Sonnen. That got me connected with them and with Lyoto Machida and the Nogueira Brothers.
After that when I came back I had a relationship with them. In L.A it's the private Black house where the professional fighters go to train separately. Anytime I want to go train I can go to the public Black house in San Diego. When the Pitbull brothers had a fight in Bellator and I had a fight coming up I used to go down there and train with them.
ULTMMA: Describe about flying cross country when your 20 years old to train with UFC stars.
Almeida: It was a dream. I never thought I would be able to do it so early. I flew out there and I didn't know what to expect or who I was going to meet. I flew out to San Diego and a friend of a friend picked me up and we drove two hours to L.A. We got to the Black house in L.A and I meet Ed Soares.
The next day Anderson came in and I was shocked. He walked in the door and he was the coolest guy, so funny and so humble. It was something you really couldn't describe. It was a really cool feeling. It was a great experience. Its something I will have for the rest of my life.
ULTMMA: What's the biggest thing you took away from training with pros like that?
Almeida: To begin with I see where they are right now and that's where I want to be. That really motivates me enough. Just training with them I pick up a lot of stuff. Their work ethic and how they train, little stuff here and there.
ULTMMA: Tells us about your main camp out in Massachusetts.
Almeida: I train a Dragon's Lair MMA in Framingham. I've been with them ever since I was eight years old. My trainer Mario Ramos has been with me for all my fights and it's a really good team. I've been there a long time and I started with Karate then moved into jiu-jitsu.
ULTMMA: When did you know you wanted to get into MMA?
Almeida: I think it was when I was 16 my brother had it a few fights. I told him I wanted a fight when I turned 18 and told me I had to train hard. A little before I was 19 I had my first pro fight. I was always competing in Karate and wrestling tournaments. I do it because I love competing no matter what it is in combat sports.
After every fight I want to fight again and again. If you lose a fight you want to get back in so you can win. If you win you want to get back in again. It's kind of addicting.
ULTMMA: Where do you prefer a fight takes place on the ground or standing up?
Almeida: I like both. I started with Karate than moved into jiu-jitsu and I also wrestled in high school. I'm pretty comfortable everywhere. You have to complete, if you're not evolving you're not going to go anywhere. I try to play it to my opponent's weaknesses and m strengths. Wherever I can win that is where I will go.
ULTMMA: When did you start getting more recognition after the Bellator tryouts or after you won a few local titles?
Almeida: After I won the Bellator open tryout it was good for me. I had a lot of people calling and asking about me. When I went out to California and started training with all those guys I think that was the biggest thing.
ULTMMA: What is your relationship with Bellator right now?
Almeida: I won the tryout fought once for them and then they came to the Mohegan Sun with a one fight deal. Then I fought twice with a promotion locally out here. Bellator called me again and offered me a two fight deal and we took that. There is a possibility for another one or I can fight locally again.
ULTMMA: If the UFC called tomorrow could you fight for them? Or does the last Bellator fight preclude you from that?
Almeida: I'm not sure you would have to ask my manger about that. There was a time limit with that (Bellator contract) to and I don't know if it expired. If it did than I could fight for the UFC. I'm looking to get one or two wins quick at featherweight.
ULTMMA: Is your goal to be in the UFC after those two fights or enter a Bellator tournament?
Almeida: My goal is to be in the UFC. I know I'm going to be there it's just a matter of time. I want to be champion. I just have to work hard and my time will come.
ULTMMA: What is the most overlooked part of your game?
Almeida: Definitely my stand-up. They will see a video and see me taking guys down. They think my stand up is not that good. I just have to get more confidence. My boxing is really good and I do Muay Thai. That's one part of my game where people see and they want to keep the fight standing. Say I'm a ground guy but I'm not just a ground guy.
ULTMMA: Is there is a fighter in the UFC you have a similar style to?
Almeida: The way I fight I feel I can watch a number of guys and emulate the way they fight. I love watching Nick Diaz fight. I love watching B.J Penn. Joe Lauzon is from my area and love watching him fight. Have to say Anderson Silva is one of my favorites.
If I'm fighting stand-up I'd like to be more like Nick. On the ground sometimes I see Joe Lauzon and he's just someone you want watch fight. He finishes fast and that's someone I like watching.
ULTMMA: Where can fans find you online?
Almeida: You can find me on facebook and twitter. Everyone can stay update to what I'm doing on there.