Capoeira specialist Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos returned to the cage on Saturday night at UFC Wichita in the co-main event, ready to show the world what fans watching Fight Pass prelims already know: that this guy is for real.
While he managed to choke out Curtis Millender with ease just 2:36 into the first round, the affair took place almost entirely on the ground. It was a departure from the typical high flying, spinning wheel kick throwing performance we’ve come to expect from the Brazilian.
The setup kick @ElizeuCapoeira #UFC224 pic.twitter.com/l7nEpEjHLP— UFC (@ufc) May 13, 2018
It’s hard not to be a little disappointed. And you get the feeling dos Santos feels the same way.
“He just came in a little bit too close too early, and it just made my job a little easier,” Dos Santos told MMA Junkie after the win. “I came here to put on a fight of the night performance, but this is MMA. The opportunity showed up, and I took it.”
Millender is known for his violent finishes ... and his green ground game. So it was a testament to dos Santos’ fight IQ that he took the takedown at the first opportunity rather than try to scrap it out on the feet. Proving he’s got a deadly ground game also doesn’t hurt when competing in a welterweight division packed with strong wrestlers. And make no mistake: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos wants a chance to prove he can hang with the best at 170.
“Who knows, May 11, in Rio de Janeiro? Why not?” he said when asked what was next (via Combate). “I’ll be prepared, it just depends on how negotiations come together. If all goes well, I want to be fighting in less than two months. And I do not want to mention names anymore, because I’ve asked for opponents more than five times. Let them send me a ranked guy, give me a top 5. And a title chance will come soon.”
UFC 237 goes down in Rio de Janeiro on May 11th, and there’s still some room on the card. But it doesn’t sound like Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos is too picky. You can count him amongst the growing group of fighters looking to get put back into action as soon as possible.
“In the end, the work that I need to do is in the octagon,” Dos Santos told MMA Junkie. “The rest is just extra. If I have a little bit extra to do, I don’t mind. But the biggest thing is making sure I go in there, do my job, get the finish, and get my hand raised.”