Bruno Machado is the UAE Warriors lightweight champion. | Photo via Bruno Machado
Anderson Silva has been on a roll in boxing since his departure from the UFC, dominating veteran boxer Julio César Chávez Jr. and quickly stopping Tito Ortiz over a span of three months. Now, he’s set to return to the squared circle against … Bruno “Caveira” Machado?
If you’re not familiar with Machado, that’s fine. “Caveira” is a Dubai-based MMA fighter with a record of 15-9 who is the reigning UAE Warriors lightweight champion. Victorious in his past six MMA bouts, the Brazilian expected to impress UFC president Dana White and sign with the UFC when White attended an event in Dubai in 2021, however White left the arena before Machado defeated Mickael Lebout.
Machado admits he has no idea how he even became an option to face Silva at Saturday’s event in Abu Dhabi, which is headlined by Floyd Mayweather Jr., but says there’s no way he would turn down an invitation to box his Brazilian countryman, who is “an idol for us like Ayrton Senna and Pelé.”
One of the many surprising factors of the matchup is the fact that Machado competes at 155 pounds in MMA, and the boxing bout will be in a catchweight of 194 pounds. Speaking on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca, “Caveira” said he decided not to gain too much weight, expecting to be “faster” than the MMA legend.
“Most people would decide to be heavier and stay around 194 pounds, but I don’t think like that,” Machado said. “I’d rather stay closer to my normal weight and be faster in the fight. I don’t think it’s a problem, I’ve trained with a lot of heavier fighters before.”
One of the “heavier fighters” he’s trained before is “The Spider” himself. Before moving full-time to Dubai with his family, Machado lived in Rio de Janeiro and trained at Team Nogueira, where he learned a few tricks from the former UFC middleweight champion on the mat.
For his boxing camp, Machado worked with veteran MMA coach Eduardo Pachu and rising prospect Gabriel Braga. Gabriel’s father, Diego Braga, coached “The Spider” for some of his final UFC bouts.
“I’ve evolved a lot since that time I trained with [Silva],” he said. “I was just a kid when I trained with him, I didn’t know much of striking. Most of the time he’d come to me and give me tips. Anderson has also changed a lot since then, so I expect this fight to be what I saw there. Anderson is a phenom, a martial arts master, and I’m so glad to be able to do this with him.”
Silva vs. Machado is an eight-round exhibition match, but “Caveira” said he’s “training as if it was a 12-round match.” Machado said he has previous experience in the squared circle, having gone 4-1 in an amateur boxing tournament in Dubai back in 2014, knocking out his first four opponents before losing a decision in the final.
“It’s going to be a great show for the fans,” Machado said. “A fight is a fight and we never know what’s going to happen. I’ll be prepared and do everything I can to do well in the fight. To say I’m going to knock him out, I don’t know. I can’t go into a fight making predictions. We’ll see. I’ll have my advantages, he’ll have his advantages. He’s more experienced than me, but I’m younger, lighter, and faster. All I can guarantee you is a show.
“I think he’ll be slower than me due to his natural weight, right? I also know his punch could be a bit heavier than mine, but I’m also ready for that. I’m going into his fight knowing the bad things that can happen to me, but I’m very confident that my speed and age [will play a big factor]. I’m 10 years younger.”
Machado also believes that being an “unknown” in a ring against a combat sport star known worldwide could play against Silva when the bell rings.
“I think he’ll have that pressure over him,” Machado said. “I have no pressure over me, my head is clear to think only about the fight and the things that will happen inside the ring. But Anderson is very experienced and I know he’s preparing to face someone unknown and the weight it might add.”
A life-changing opportunity to face “The Spider” could catapult Machado’s MMA career, or even boost his name in a whole new sport. Who knows? After dreaming of a shot in the UFC, “Caveira” may pursue boxing instead depending on how things go Saturday.
“I don’t know if [a win] will guarantee me a contract with the UFC,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know what might happen after this fight. They might call me for more boxing matches, other [MMA] promotions might call me, too. A lot can happen. I expect good things to come.”
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