Home Boxing News Fresh off his biggest win, featherweight prospect Almeida inks deal with CES

Fresh off his biggest win, featherweight prospect Almeida inks deal with CES

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Aug. 23, 2011) – More often than not, a promoter will go out of his way to find a world-rated, free agent with a limitless future.

Rather than wait by the phone, Saul “The Spider” Almeida chose his own destiny, bringing his credentials to the only promoter on his radar and landing a new contract with the fastest-growing promotional company in mixed martial arts.

Fresh off a big win over Tateki Matsuda on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Almeida (10-1) signed a long-term promotional agreement with Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc., an easy decision for the Framingham, Mass., featherweight considering his last three fights prior to Saturday’s appearance at “Bellator 48” came on the undercard of CES shows.

“Locally, there’s no one else I’d rather fight for,” said Almeida, 22, who is ranked No. 10 in the world among locals by Arizona-based website ULTMMA.com and No. 5 in the region among 145-pounders by NortheastMMA.net.

“They blow all the other promoters away. They treat me so well with everything and their events are awesome. I think it’s the best show in New England by far and that’s why I chose to stay with CES. The match-ups they put together, the venues they fight in, their marketing – there’s just no comparison. They treat me well. This was the right deal for me; it’s a win-win.”

The timing for both parties is perfect considering Almeida’s rapid climb in the featherweight division. After suffering the first and only loss of his professional career to Rhode Island’s Pete Jeffrey in 2010 – again, on the undercard of CES’ first mixed martial arts show – Almeida has rededicated himself to his craft, winning each of his last three bouts in impressive fashion. The streak began with a unanimous-decision win over Bobby Reardanz in February, followed by another unanimous-decision victory over highly-touted prospect Cody Stevens in June. Almeida raised the stakes again Saturday night against Matsuda, who hadn’t lost since March of 2010, and dominated from start to finish, highlighting a stacked card that aired nationally on MTV2 as part of Bellator’s inaugural “Summer Series.”

“Saul is another tremendous addition to our team,” Burchfield said. “This is a name you’ll hear more of in the near future, whether it’s locally or worldwide.

“His victory Saturday over Tateki Matsuda proves he’s a star in the making. Matsuda stole the show on one of our cards last winter and was ranked third regionally among fighters in his weight class, yet Saul dominated like a true professional. You learn the most about a fighter when he faces adversity, and Saul has done nothing but impress since his only loss. He’s the kind of fighter any promoter would want, and the kind of fighter this sport needs.”

“When you’re undefeated, sometimes you think you’re invincible and you can’t lose,” Almeida added. “For the first couple of weeks, that loss [to Jeffrey] stung, but then I said, ‘You know what? I learned from this and it’s going to help me in my future.’ I’m training hard two to three times a day, six days a week – no shortcuts. You can’t take shortcuts if you want to make it to the highest level.”

Almeida’s path began at eight years old when he and his family moved from Brazil to Framingham (his father settled a year earlier, and he and his mother made the trip a year later). His mother immediately enrolled him in karate classes at the Dragon Lair Academy in Framingham under the tutelage of Mario Ramos.

The two have been inseparable ever since; Almeida continues to train with Ramos at Dragon Lair and is now in his third year of fighting professionally since making his debut with a unanimous-decision win over Iann de Oliveira in October of 2008.

“Mario is like a father figure to me,” Almeida said. “Everything I’ve done under his direction – wrestling in high school [at Framingham], point fighting, Jiu-Jitsu – all snowballed into what I’m doing now. It just kind of fell into place.

“Ever since my first fight, I knew this would be my career. This is what I wanted to do. I never had this mentality of just going out there to get into a fight or get paid while having an odd job on the side. I always had the mindset that this would be my career. This is what I want to do, so I can’t lose. If I keep doing what I’m doing, it’ll pay off.”

So far, it has – especially in Saturday’s win over Matsuda in which Almeida utilized his superior conditioning and striking to control the flow of the match from start to finish, a far cry from his performance in his loss to Jeffrey last year.

“This time, I had everything working. I brought my all-around game and he couldn’t keep up,” Almeida said. “I wanted to push the pace on him and make him frustrated. He’s definitely the best striker I faced so far, so it’s good to know I can beat a guy with striking like his.

“I wasn’t scared. I shouldn’t be; I felt I had him in trouble numerous times.”

Saturday’s win not only boosts Almeida’s position in the rankings, but it also serves as a parting shot to the crew at Spike TV, which picked Matsuda for its bantamweight division in the network’s upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter” while Almeida failed to make the final cut among featherweights (both fighters tried out for the show in March). Season 14 premiers on Sept. 21.

“The way I see it, I beat a guy they chose,” Almeida said, “so maybe they should reconsider how they choose in the future.”

For now, Almeida has no problem staying on his current path; the best is yet to come for the versatile, 6-foot-1 featherweight, and his new relationship with CES figures to be the start of an exciting stretch that will eventually take him to the next level.

“Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “If I’m patient and keep training hard and keep winning, it’ll come to me. I won’t force anything. Whoever or wherever, it doesn’t matter. I just want a good fight. I want to get to a level where I can say I’m in the best shape of my life ready to fight the top fighters in the world.

“Maybe I can become a champion one day. I want to make money and be happy doing it. That’s my goal. Right now, I’m happy. This is my career. If you like what you’re doing, you shouldn’t consider it a job I get paid to do something I love, so it’s a plus.”

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