Raulian Paiva came out of UFC Vegas 32 with a fantastic upset victory, but it came at a cost. A short-notice replacement for Raphael Assuncao against Kyler Phillips, the Brazilian suffered brutal shots and came close to getting finished in the first round of the card’s co-main event, but powered through it to pick up a majority decision win.
In an interview with Combate, Paiva revealed that he doesn’t even remember much of the fight’s first five minutes, after getting badly hurt by Phillips. Somehow, Paiva was able to defend himself enough for the referee to let the bout continue, but not even the man himself knows exactly how he did it.
“All I remember is looking at my coaches while Phillips was hitting me,” Paiva admitted. “Then I realized I had been knocked down. I don’t even remember getting back up, I don’t remember a single thing from the first round. I watched the fight later on and saw that I was knocked down twice. I don’t remember getting back up and trading shots with him. I went for it, it was insane. I was like a zombie. It’s the first time I’ve been knocked down like that.”
“I do remember what happened after the second round.” Paiva continued. “During the break, I was aware that I was losing and I was focused on turning it around. I pressured him a lot and that broke him psychologically. The ending of the third round was pure heart. I channeled the positive energy of Brazil to my gloves and swung for the fences, I couldn’t give up. I needed to debut with a win in this division.”
After fighting at flyweight for his first four UFC outings and badly missing weight in his last one, Paiva is glad he moved up to the bantamweight division. Although he is now heavier and not as fast, the Team Alpha Male talent feels stronger and like he can take shots more easily. While the Brazilian knows there is still quite a ladder to climb in order to reach the top, he feels confident after his win at UFC Vegas 32.
“I was able to recover more weight than when I was at flyweight. I was more swollen, stronger,” Paiva explained. “It didn’t feel like Phillips was the stronger one, with the heaviest hands and more power in his shots. He caught me in a certain moment. I felt like I had more power. I feel really well in this body. My goal is to train more and more. Fix my mistakes, work on my explosion and cardio. I need to work on improving myself. This was a good fight, it showed me I can handle getting punished. I hope I can get a spot in the rankings, Phillips’ spot, he was number 15. I started on the right foot to hang with the sharks and the lions.”
The win over Phillips put Paiva (21-3) on a three-fight winning streak, with victories over Mark De La Rosa and Zhalgas Zhumagulov prior to UFC Vegas 32. Previously, the 25-year-old started his UFC career on a two-fight losing skid in the Octagon, with defeats to Rogerio Bontorin and Kai-Kara France.