There’s a reason we haven’t seen Ednaldo Oliveira competing in the UFC in more than 19 months. A couple reasons, in fact, and ones the Brazilian would rather forget.
Oliveira (13-1-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), who made his UFC debut in January 2012 and suffered a submission loss to heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga, now drops to light heavyweight to fight Francimar Barroso (15-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at Saturday’s UFC 163 event. It streams on Facebook prior to additional bouts on FX and pay-per-view.
Oliveira, 29, enters the cage with a heavy heart. Two months prior to the Gonzaga fight, he learned his father was losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. While his father was in the hospital, Oliveira made his promotional debut and was choked out in the first round.
It was a rough time for Oliveira, who had never previously experienced a loss, and the criticism from fans quickly poured in.
Then, later that year, Oliveira’s father finally succumbed to the cancer and passed away.
“After my UFC debut, which was a loss, many things took place in my life,” he told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “But foremost was the loss of my father.”
Oliveira opted to fight on and return to a training camp, though his resolve would be further tested. Two subsequent bouts fell apart – due to two separate fractures on the same arm. The timing was especially tough.
“Before, I was supposed to face Nick Penner, but I broke my arm and had to drop out of that card,” he said. “But life goes on, and I started training again. I was then booked against Krzysztof Soszynski in December of last year. Unfortunately while training at the Corinthians training center in Sao Paulo, I took a kick to the arm, and fractured it in a different spot. So I had to cancel again.
“I was very sad. This happened in the beginning of November, on the same day I lost my father to cancer. But that’s in the past. I had to overcome that.”
Oliveira, who said he also has an uncle who’s now fighting lung cancer, tried to find a positive in what was otherwise a truly horrid period of his life.
It forced Oliveira, who counts former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos as one of his training partners, to rethink his career and how to prepare for a fight. It also forced a new focus and commitment.
“What has changed in me, as a fighter, is my mindset,” he said. “The worst that could have happened, already happened.
“I’m taking good care of all facets (of my life), including good nutrition, sufficient rest, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, etc. Now I’m much more serious about this career. Before I had to divide my time with either another job or school. Now I live for fighting.”
Oliveira again finds himself fighting a fellow Brazilian in Brazil. He said a fight is a fight, so he’s not so worried about the particulars of Saturday’s matchup.
However, he’s learned just how much his family means to him, and he’s taking those emotions into the cage with him. He just hopes he can do something to make them proud.
“My uncle has been undergoing both chemotherapy and radiation treatment,” he said. “My uncle is my biggest fan, so I hope he [gets to see this] fight.”
For more on UFC 163, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.