Elizeu Zaleski’s record dropped to 22-7 last time out when he came up short against Muslim Salikhov at last year’s UFC 251. That split decision loss came after a unanimous decision win over Alexey Kunchenko and a TKO loss to Li Jingliang. Before that loss he was on a seven UFC fight winning streak.
As he hopes to get back in the win column ‘Capoeira’ is trying to call his own shot. Specifically, he wants to be one of the last opponents ‘The Immortal’ Matt Brown faces before calling it a day.
Zaleski told MMA Fighting that his reason for wanting to fight Brown is much more personal than a simple desire for a banger up against another action-fighter. The Brazilian explained that he wants to serve some payback to Brown because of something the American did in Zaleski’s hometown of Curitiba back in 2016.
Back then, at UFC 198, Matt Brown faced Demian Maia and lost to the BJJ icon by third round submission. However, it was what happened before the fight that scooped many of the headlines.
At the official weigh-ins, which back then happened in front of crowd, Brown was greeted with what you’d expect from the partisan Brazilian fans, lots of boos and chants of ‘uh vai morrer’ (you’re going to die).
Brown’s response to the chanting was to turn his back on the crowd and raise both middle fingers towards them. This only intensified the booing. The crowd also booed Brown viciously during the fight the following night. Brown and his team were also struck a number of times by fans as he walked to the cage.
Zaleski hasn’t forgotten about what happened in Curitiba. And, despite Brown being on the receiving end of abuse and attacks (including one that happened in the fighter hotel after the event), he blames it all on the longtime UFC veteran.
“A lot of people would like to see [me fight him], especially because of the impression he left when he fought here in Curitiba,” Zaleski said. “It was the UFC’s first time here in Curitiba and he does that? It didn’t look good for him, people booed him. Demian Maia got the job done, went there and won.
“Every fighter promotes [a fight] a certain way, but we saw it wasn’t a promotion really. He did that because he got nervous and kind of pissed the crowd off.”
Zaleski said this is the second time he has asked the UFC for a fight with Brown. He said he’s certain that if they do get matched up, the resulting fight would be must-see-TV.
“His style is aggressive and he loves to brawl. It’s kind of like my style, too, it’s what I love doing. It has everything to be a great fight, especially after what happened here [in Curitiba].
“Since he’s coming off a win, retired and came back, it’s only fair to make him my comeback and have him pay for what he did in Brazil. It wasn’t cool. He was a jerk to the Brazilian crowd and people would definitely love to watch this great fight, no doubt.
“If this fight really happens, if he doesn’t run this time, we’ll study him and brawl in there. There’s no other option but a knockout [win for me]. That’s what he goes for and that’s what I go for, so we’ll go for the knockout from start to finish.”
Brown, who turned 40 this year, beat Dhiego Lima by KO last month to secure the record for most knockout wins in the UFC’s welterweight division (11). That marker is also good for second most knockouts wins in overall UFC history.
Prior to beating Lima he lost back-to-back contests to Carlos Condit and Miguel Baeza.