Diego Brandao's schedule just got a lot more interesting.
The 27-year-old Brazilian powerhouse was waiting for his next bout to materialize when the UFC put what could prove to be the biggest opportunity of his career on the table in the form of a bout against Conor McGregor at Fight Night 46. The brash-talking Irishman was originally slated to face Cole Miller in the main event of the UFC's return to Dublin on July 19, but the American Top Team fighter suffered an injury, and the spot opposite "Notorious" opened up.
Brandao and his camp accepted the offer immediately, and now a new headlining tilt is set for the UFC's first event in Dublin's O2 World Arena since 2009. The surging Irish prospect is well-known for his trash-talking talents, and he wasted no time getting that particular party started once the bout with Brandao became official.
While The Ultimate Fighter 14 winner is known for his emotional, full throttle fighting style, he is confident McGregor will not be able to get under his skin in the lead-up to their bout. The two men have exchanged barbs previously on Twitter, but Brandao believes this fight is the perfect opportunity to elevate his status. He guarantees he will have his focus locked on defeating McGregor on July 19.
"I'm feel very, very happy," Brandao told Bleacher Report. "This fight is what I was waiting for and my heart is pumping a lot. I can't wait to fight against him.
"We had some discussion before on Twitter, but I'm gonna be honest with you, he talks a lot because he wants to promote the fights. I think this is good to get attention, but I really don't care what he gonna say about me...while he speaks I train.
"He can talk what he wants to talk," Brandao added. "I don't care. I already said this and I will say again: I know that he respects me. I can feel that."
The upcoming bout with McGregor will provide Brandao the opportunity to get his status in the featherweight division back on track. The Jackson's MMA-trained fighter was dealt a loss to Dustin Poirier in his most recent showing, and he's been eager to get things turned around and put another notch into the win column.
That said, Brandao has had two bouts scheduled since the Poirier fight, and both tilts were ultimately scrapped at the last minute. Yet, where his previously slated tilts against Will Chope and Brian Ortega would have run below the radar, his main-event scrap with the rising Irish star is guaranteed to bring a much different caliber of attention.
The John Kavanagh-trained fighter has dominated both of his showings inside the Octagon and is a major factor behind the UFC's decision to return to Ireland. Brandao will be facing the country's flag bearer for MMA in his own backyard, and he couldn't be more fired up for the scrap.
"I think this fight is gonna be hard for him and for me as well," Brandao said. "I'm gonna give my best performance ever inside the Octagon. He is not the fighter that he is talking. He is a good fighter and he has some good skills, but he needs more experience. He has many flaws in his game and I will work in those flaws.
"It's not a problem for me, I love the Irish people," he added in regard to fighting in hostile territory. "They are very good and funny people. I know they have many Brazilians there and they are gonna be there to support me. I'm prepared to go there and win this fight."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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