Jailton Almeida’s route from soccer disappointment to UFC fame concludes with him feeling fulfilled even if apocalypse ensued

Jailton Almeida is not your typical MMA athlete. He’s quit the sport several times, leading many to question whether he’s cut out for it. However, he’s overcome countless obstacles to become one of the sport’s rising stars.

“Looking back, I can see that giving up in 2014 and then returning to achieve my dreams, being in the world’s biggest fight promotion, and headlining an event is a dream come true, When I reflect on everything I’ve been through, the ups and downs, it all makes sense now.”

Growing up in Bahia, Almeida’s father Jailton “Malhado” was a successful boxer. His uncle and older brother were also boxing aficionados. Despite this, Almeida had his sights set on playing football and joined the youth team for Esporte Clube Vitoria, a local team. However, Almeida was quickly disheartened when a staff member told him he needed a manager to train for the team, which would require a payment of R$10,000.

Unable to afford it, Almeida quit football and started training in jiu-jitsu since it was free at his dad’s gym. Years later, his jiu-jitsu coach encouraged Almeida to try out MMA. He had some experience with grappling, and he felt ready. His first fight proved his skill when he won with a rear-naked choke in the opening round. But after another win two months later, tragedy struck when his older brother disappeared.

Almeida thinks his brother’s choice to associate with local criminals led to his disappearance. Almeida took some time away from the sport but came back three years later. Unfortunately, he experienced unfair treatment from local promoters, who would often refuse to pay him, which resulted in him quitting again. But Almeida missed the sport and soon returned to training.

Almeida then faced his hardest setback when he was knocked out in just 16 seconds during a fight. Almeida was stunned and thought about quitting, but his coach urged him to continue if he wanted to succeed. Almeida took a few more fights, won some, lost some, before starting a winning streak in Brazil. He eventually got his chance in the UFC, and now he’s gearing up for his first main event in the promotion.


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