To debut in the biggest MMA promotion in the world on short notice can be a nerve-racking affair. Many household UFC names did crumble under the spotlights and claimed how real the infamous Octagon jitters can feel once you set foot in there for the first time, especially with little to no time to prepare.
Just a few days shy of his first ever UFC appearance, lightweight Alex Coelho finds himself in this exact situation while he makes the final preparations to take on six-fight Octagon veteran Alexander Yakovlev. He fights in the Russian’s home country, in a bout he accepted with just 16 days before the event. For Coelho, however, all those things that could be seem as obstacles are welcomed and seen as rather liberating, since they remove all the pressure from his debut.
“(Having my debut on short notice) is the best feeling possible, because all the pressure goes to my opponent, since I came in on short notice.” Coelho told Bloody Elbow. “I’m always training, it doesn’t matter whether or not I have a fight coming up. I believe I’ll be able to keep a good pace for three rounds, but isn’t my way, I always finish my fights.”
With just one loss under his belt, Alex Coelho (20-1) gathered plenty of stoppage wins on the regional Brazilian circuit and even went on to perform around the world under Brave Combat Federation’s and Serbian Combat Championship’s banners. Currently on a two-fight winning streak, with a TKO and a submission victory, the 23-year-old tells Bloody Elbow he feels excited to perform in Russia and even dreams of taking on lightweight muay thai expert Edson Barboza one day.
“The anticipation is high, I’m very excited to have an opportunity to fight in the land of great fighters such as Fedor Emelianenko and Khabib Nurmagomedov. There are many fights of which I’m a fan in my weight class, but one I would be honored to fight is Edson Barboza.”
Alexander Yakovlev’s original opponent, Teemu Packalen, was forced out of the bout with an undisclosed injury on April 4. Now, the Russian is expected to take on Alex Coelho at UFC Fight Night 149, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on April 20. The card will be headlined by a heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Alexey Oleynik.