Photos provided by Sonder Marketing
Gleidson DeJesus (7-2) will meet Titan Fighting Championship bantamweight champion Jose ‘Shorty’ Torres this Friday night at Titan FC 46. Just two days out from weigh-ins, the title challenger sounded motivated as ever to hand Torres his first loss, while putting gold around his waist for the first time.
DeJesus and Torres headline the fight card taking place at the Pembroke Pines Civic Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida. You can watch the event unfold on the UFC’s digital streaming subscription service, UFC Fight Pass. I caught up with DeJesus earlier today to discuss his first title opportunity.
Coming off a first round submission win over Chino Duran in August. How soon after that fight did you know that your next fight would be for the title?
“I knew I would be fighting for the title regardless, since January 2017. That was the goal. I just had to keep going. Keep putting my on my record. I knew it was a go. I never once took time off. Fight nights on Fridays, Saturday I was training again, Monday I was doing it all over again. I haven’t taken time off because I knew the goal at the end of the year was to make sure I challenged Torres. He went up to my division to get the 135-pound belt. I knew there was something there, I just had to continually work. Then once it fell in my lap, I was ready for it, and now here it is. Now we’re here.”
With Torres holding the best in 2 divisions, do you feel that it creates a log jam or slows down the process of fighters competing for the title?
“I don’t really know much about that because there’s really not a whole lot of people on the Titan roster right now to fight at 135, besides myself. That’s why it was a great challenge for him. I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing to continue work, and the results have spoken. Now I’m ready to challenge him for the 135-pound belt. Everyone wants to be the ‘Champ Champ’ because of Conor McGregor but at the same time you gotta know how to back it up at all times. Now he has the biggest challenge in his hands and I’m ready to prove it to him.”
He is currently undefeated as a pro at 5-0. He’s been one of those guys that everyone keeps saying is on the cusp of a UFC contract. Do you feel that a win over Shorty puts you in line for that opportunity?
“Yeah, 100 percent. The hype train is on him. Everyone gets caught up in that, but I feel like this is the most focused and composed I have ever been in my career. The healthiest, just focused on training, instead of work, and I’m ready to take that belt from him and let him go back down to 125-pounds, cause that’s something that I would not want to do again. I tried it once, it didn’t work out, but I’m a big 135-pounder. That’s the goal. I beat him, I’m definitely looking to be knocking on the UFC door, but if not I’ll continue to work and just move on.”
You are training out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek. Who have been your main training partners for this fight camp?
“Right I’ve been training with Kyoji Horiguchi and Pedro Munhoz. Kyoji is fighting at RIZIN right now at 135 pounds. He’s also for the belt in December. And Pedro is coming off a $50,000 bonus submission with a rear-naked choke over Rob Font. I actually trained with Rob Font in the past. I was kind of working with Pedro to mimic what Rob Font would give to him. I owe it to a lot of great guys. I push the pace in the training. I pick the most competitive guy there. There’s not one person that you can say you owe it all to you. There’s a lot of great fighters in our gym, a lot of UFC fighters. I spar a lot with Barao, former UFC champions. TJ Dillashaw is one of Jose’s main training partners so this is going to be a great challenge. “
You moved to the United States from Brazil when you were about 10 years old. But you were training martial arts prior to you move here to the States. Essentially you could say you are a lifelong martial artist. What is it about the sport that attracts you to compete?
“Yeah, like you said, I came here when I was 9 or 10. My dad brought us here from Brazil. We come from a very struggled background where I’m from in Brazil. Technically I have been training in Capoeira since I was four years old. It is a Brazilian martial art. The kicking game is like if anyone has done kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, Karate. That’s what I’ve been doing my entire life, over 20 years. I do a lot of performances, a lot of shows. Once I got into American Top Team I started doing jiu-jitsu. I’m a brown belt in jiu-jitsu. I just fell in love with watching Thiago Alves and all these guys fighting in the UFC and Pride. JZ Cavalcante. I see these guys walking around the gym with everything they worked for so hard, and I wanted that same life, that same experience. I was a hungry, young kid and I’m very competitive. Even in Capoeira. I try to make sure I’m as proficient as possible. I fell in love with MMA and that’s been my career ever since then. I never looked back. I never changed anything but that. I could have become a world champion in jiu-jitsu but it wasn’t paying enough. I needed to make sure my family was going to be well taken care of. If I have to put myself through it, I’m willing to put it all on the line. My entire body, through the pain, but the results will be great so that’s how it is. This kid (Jose Torres) might be looking past my skills but he doesn’t know I’ve been in martial arts my whole life. This is something I’ve been doing forever and ever. So it’s nothing new to me.
“I just continue to work. I take a lot of time off, not because of myself, but because people don’t want to fight me. They see videos of me doing backflips and stuff and they are like ‘this kid is super athletic.’ I’m like ‘man, you’re in the fight game, let’s fight.’ So I had to take a lot of time and go to work because I was only fighting once a year. This is the first time I fought three times since 2013. I’m in the best in the best shape of my life. I woke up this morning at 143 pounds. I don’t really lose weight. I stay on weight. I stay ready so I don’t have to struggle like most of these guys. Jose may have to eat his way up or whatever he is doing, but you know, I tag him in all my results. I’m like ‘hey man, I want the best of you, you’re gonna get the best of me.’ Best believe that. Friday, November 17, you are gonna get the best Gleidson you will ever see in your life. I’m looking forward to this little adventure I’m having. This is just the beginning. I’m in my prime. There’s a lot of exciting fights coming up. I have a lot of tricks in my bag, my kicks, everything. There is a lot I want to show to the world and he is going to bring that out of me.”
We are in fight week. Final preparations are being made for Thursday’s weigh-ins. How is everything going in that regard?
“I don’t really. That’s the thing about these guys. They like to be so big in training. They want to be like these old school, all these rag dogs. Things are changing. I’ve been 145 this whole year, 11 months. I didn’t get to 145 two weeks ago. Ask anybody, check my social media all the time. I went down to 140 two week ago. I could have essentially made weight two weeks ago. I choose to eat my way up. Boxing is a great passion of mine. These boxers lose about 10 pounds. They don’t do it much. I really picked up on that. Floyd Mayweather is one of my idols. He runs 8 miles every day or every other day. I run 6.5. This Saturday I ran 9 miles. That’s when I prove myself. I’m like ‘yo, this is it. I’m ready, let’s do it.’ He’s gonna get the best of me. I’m confident. Not cocky, but confident in my skills and my ability of being a martial artist. I’m a full on martial artist. I’m not just a one trick pony. I’m a full on martial artist.
“Weight cuts have never been an issue for me. I’m always under weight. At 135 pounds, I make 134. Sometimes I made 133. Look at my physique. I’ve had a six-pack since I was 10. Weight cutting you have to take it as your profession. This is your occupation for the rest of your career. A lot of these guys they walk around the gym as big guys. I’d rather be fast. I’m fast guy but I’m strong as hell. I’d rather do that so I can enjoy my week and just focus on the fight. I haven’t put a sauna suit on or anything like that ever. I’m hungry as ever for this fight. It’s my first title fight so I’m ready. He can look at it any other way, but he’s undefeated and I love guys that are undefeated. You have to get that first loss to humble yourself a little. If he’s not taking this fight seriously, he’s gonna find out on Friday.
“The dedication comes from my daughter. Every day I wake up, my day starts at 5 a.m. I have to take her to day care. I never expected someone to push me so much besides him, but her. I look at her face and she says “daddy, I want this, I want this.” I look at her and say, “you’re gonna get everything. I’m gonna push myself through everything to give you whatever you want in life. But also understand there is hard work involved in this.’
Any teammates, coaches, sponsors, anyone you want to thank?
“Yes, I want to thank one of my biggest sponsors. Broward Manual Rehab Center. These guys have been taking care of me. I want to thank my coaches and my teammates at American Top Team. Without them and their experiences and seeing what they are going through, I would be nothing. I want to give glory to God cause he is the one who gives me the strength and everything to do this sport. Every day I wake up, thank my little girl. Thanks Jose for giving me this opportunity. This is going to be a life changer for me. I’m super serious about this and I’m looking forward to Friday night.”
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