Interview: Brave 11 lightweight title challenger Luan Santiago

In just two days time, Luan “Miau” Santiago (12-2-0) will be putting his seven fight win streak on the line Lucas “Mineiro” Martins (19-3-0) in the main event at Brave 11 in his home town of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. With the Brave interim lightweight championship on the line and the winner expected to face reigning champion Ottman Azaitar later this year, the stakes are high.

Earlier this week, I caught up with Santiago to discuss how it feels to be given an opportunity to capture the gold in his home town and how preparations are going heading into the biggest fight of his career to date.

Luan Santiago 1 - Brave 11 Brazil MMAMotion

Tom Mulligan – After impressive KO finishes in your first two fights for Brave CF, how does it feel to be given a shot at the interim belt?
Luan Santiago – I’ve been enjoying the fruits of my labor. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am so I feel this is time to get back what I invested in this sport.
 
TM – How has camp been going so far?
LS – My training camp was amazing. I worked really hard on my jiu-jitsu and wrestling and every other area. I really enjoyed getting ready for this fight.
 
TM – Does being included in Fighters Only’s top prospects for the year add any pressure to deliver going into the bout with Martins?
LS – There’s no additional pressure. I don’t think so. When we get in there it’s just time to work. This doesn’t change anything in my mindset going into this fight. 
 
TM – Having won your last six fights by KO/TKO, are you expecting your naturally aggressive approach to be on Martins’ mind heading into the fight?
LS – I hope for the KO, of course, but I’m ready to roll wherever the fight goes. I can take him down and submit him, and I can knock him out.
 
TM – Martins has won his last two fights via submission. Is that something you are concerned about heading into the fight?
LS – His submission game doesn’t worry me at all. First of all, I don’t think he can take me down. If the fight goes to the ground I’ll be on top and it’s not gonna be good for him.
 
TM – How does it feel to be fighting for the title in Brazil and how important is it to you that you put on an entertaining fight in front of the Brazilian fans?
LS – It’s an amazing feeling to be fighting for the Brave belt in my home country. Even though Belo Horizonte is my opponent’s hometown, I’m Brazilian and he’s Brazilian. This is very important to me and it’s so cool that Brave is giving the Brazilian fans an opportunity to witness one of their own becoming world champion.
 
TM – What do you picture being the key to winning this fight and walking away with the championship?
LS – The key is what I do in every fight. Train really hard and be prepared to succeed in every single scenario.
 
TM – If you had one message for Martins ahead of your fight what would it be?
LS – A message to my opponent? Good luck! 

Brave 11 is set to take place on Friday 13th April at Mineirao Stadium’s Terrace, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil and will be headlined by an interim lightweight title fight between Lucas Martins and Luan Santiago. The full fight card for the event is below.

Interview: Brave 11 lightweight title challenger Lucas Martins

29-year-old veteran Lucas “Mineiro” Martins (19-3-0) is on the brink of achieving his dream of capturing a Brave CF championship. This isn’t the first time that Martins has found himself preparing for a shot at a Brave championship. After falling ill prior to his scheduled featherweight title fight against Elias Boudegzdame at Brave 9, he could be forgiven for thinking that his opportunity to be a champion had slipped away. Just five months later, Martins has been grated a second opportunity at the gold, this time at lightweight and in his home nation of Brazil.

Just days away from his planned meeting Luan Santiago at Brave 11 for the interim lightweight championship, I caught up with Martins to discuss the events which led to the cancellation of his last title shot and how he thinks Friday’s fight will play out.

Lucas Martins - Brave 11 Brazil MMAMotion

Tom Mulligan – Can you talk me through what happened during your preparation for your title fight against Elias Boudegzdame at Brave 9: The Kingdom of Champions?
Lucas Martins – Everything was going good, but when there was 1kg to go I started feeling ill. I’ve always made weight, even in a weight class below, but I ended up feeling ill, started feeling dizzy, and we decided to stop the weight cut, because health comes first. I think it was a mistake during my diet leading up to the cut, but it was a learning experience, so I’m making sure it doesn’t happen again.

TM – It must have been disappointing to lose out on your opportunity to fight for the title. How does it feel to be given a chance at the interim belt so soon after Brave 9
LM – It was frustrating for me to not be able to fight for the Brave title at Featherweight. We decided to go up in weight to test myself. Being able to fight for the title is very satisfying. I don’t mean no disrespect to any Brave athlete, but I know that there aren’t any athletes on my level in the roster, so that’s why they gave me the title shot.

TM – Moving on to your preparation for the fight against Luan Santiago. How has camp been going so far?
LM – My preparation for this fight has been going very well, I’ve been training in all disciplines and my strategy is to win this fight.

TM – Prior to the complications at Brave 9 you had always achieved weight. Have you made any changes to your plans for this weight cut?
LM – I basically did the same things, since it was a cut to Lightweight I could eat a little more and push through a little more in my physical training. I think that was a mistake, but it’s in the past. Every athlete must go through these types of situations so I’ve gained a lot of experience from that. And after this fight as a Lightweight, I’ll fight one more time and then come back down to Featherweight.

Lucas Martins1 Brave 11 Brazil MMAMotion

TM – Santiago has won 10 of his 12 wins via KO with 8 of those coming in the first round. Have you made any changes to your preparation to take this into account
LM – Like I said, the strategy for this fight is to win. After this, I’ll go back to the gym and train more.

TM –  What do you picture being the key to winning this fight and walking away with the championship?
LM – There’s no key, no moment to win this fight. Like I said, wherever the fight goes I’ll fight, win and become champion.

TM – Looking ahead, how important is it to you to win this interim belt to get a second chance at facing Boudegzdame for the undisputed featherweight championship?
LM – For sure. I’ll win the Brave Lightweight title and settle my differences with Elias. I’ll go back down to my weight and fight him, for sure. 

TM – If you had one message for Santiago ahead of your fight what would it be?
LM – My message to my opponent: I send him a hug. 

Brave 11 is set to take place on Friday 13th April at Mineirao Stadium’s Terrace, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil and will be headlined by an interim lightweight title fight between Lucas Martins and Luan Santiago. The full fight card for the event is below.

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Wiz Khalifa trains with Brave CF contender Lucas Martins

Brave CF standout and former UFC veteran Lucas Martins (19-3-0) had an unexpected training partner this week.

Ten time Grammy nominated rap star Wiz Khalifa was in town to perform at Lollapalooza and received an invitation to train with Martins through his coach, Caio Franco. Khalifa has been training in Mixed Martial Arts at Unbreakable Gym in LA and has reportedly spent time training with MMA legend Chuck Liddell.

Martins is preparing for a highly anticipated interim lightweight championship fight at Brave 11 against Luan Santiago (12-2-0). The fight will be the first time two Brazilian fighters are competing under the Brave CF banner in a championship fight.

2016 Brazilian Fighter of the Year, Santiago is currently undefeated in Brave over two appearances with both fights ending via first round knockouts. His two international victories have put the him on the radar for leading MMA magazine “Fighters Only” to be included among the publication’s biggest prospects for 2018.

Santiago and Martins are set to fight in the main event at Brave Combat Federation 11 in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, on April 13.