Bantamweight Raoni Barcelos suffered his first UFC defeat in his last outing, but he will not allow the feeling to get him down. Now paired up against newcomer Victor Henry, the Brazilian wants to show fans how much he has evolved and that he is ready to get back into contention.
In an interview with Ag Fight, Barcelos explained how he was able to learn from his mistakes in his loss to Russian prospect Timur Valiev. However, Raoni does not regret fighting the way he did, even if it led to a loss, as he feels his performance showed he was an eye-opening experience.
“After a loss you go home, you cool your head and you fix the mistakes,” Barcelos said. “That’s what I did. I think I got some things right and I’m coming back much stronger for my next one. The Valiev fight was a dog fight. The decision could have gone my way, but it went his. I was close to finishing that fight in the second round. But that had to happen, so I could make some changes and come back fully motivated.
“That fight showed I can surprise myself even more,” Raoni said. “I can always make an extra effort. I don’t have to be so uptight all the time, I can let loose. I felt like I froze a little in the third round. I could have done more. That shows how tough my opponent was. Watching the fight again was hard, to catch those mistakes and not make them again. That loss motivated me a lot. I have a different mindset now and I’m more mature.”
Barcelos hopes to put on an impressive performance on Saturday against Henry. Should his wish come true, the Brazilian even knows who he wants to fight next and where: rising prospect Sean O’Malley, in Rio de Janeiro.
“I was going to mention O’Malley,” he said. “He has potential. It’s great that he’s ranked. Fans in the United States and Brazil have been asking for this. A potential fight between us in Rio de Janeiro. I think it would stop the city. My guys and his fans. I think he has almost three million followers on Instagram. It’s a fight that would sell well. This is my moment. Athletes are all about moment. If the UFC gave me this opportunity, I’d be so happy. It would be a milestone for me.
“It might happen, it might not,” Raoni said. “It depends on the fans, too. If they ask for it, it happens. If they don’t, the UFC moves on. We’ll meet each other someday. He has two arms and two legs, just like me and I really believe in my skills. He’s a very good striker. He’s a knockout artist, but I believe in myself. I believe I can take him down, knock him out or even submit him.”
In his last outing, Barcelos (16-2) dropped a majority decision to Timur Valiev, back in June 2021. The loss snapped a five-fight win streak in the Octagon for Raoni, who defeated Khalid Taha by unanimous decision in his last outing, in November 2020.
Now, Barcelos is expected to take on Henry on the prelims of UFC 270, in Anaheim, California, on January 22. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a title unification bout between the current champion, Francis Ngannou, and interim title-holder Ciryl Gane.