He was ready to go when his fight with Hardy got moved to the April 18th version of UFC 249, but when the card was postponed, he took his foot off the gas pedal a little bit and spent the time relaxing with his family.
One night, De Castro had just ordered a large pizza and was sipping beer while watching movies with his family when he noticed his constantly buzzing cell phone. His manager let him know the fight with Hardy was back on for May 9, and he responded promptly.
“I said, ‘Oh, s**t. I guess I’m going to put the pizza and beer down,’” De Castro said. “I stepped on the scale, and my weight was still good, and I said, ‘Thank God’ and told them they could finish the pizza.”
More than just letting them eat the rest of his cheat meals, De Castro is in pursuit of mixed martial arts success to give his family a better life. Once just a kickboxer in Portugal, an uncle convinced De Castro to transition to mixed martial arts, and after scoring a first-round knockout in his amateur debut, he was hooked.
That internal motivation and love is enough for him to get up for his highest-profile matchup to date. Hardy is a name people know, and while De Castro said he received supportive messages from people hoping he would hand Hardy another loss, De Castro isn’t allowing the negative energy to charge him up for this matchup.
“I think he’s a super, super strong athlete,” De Castro said. “Fast. He’s got good movement, and he’s a good fighter. I think he’s mixing up his punches and kicks very well now. He’s still improving, so I’m glad I’m fighting him right now because I think he’s going to be too good in a year or two. And I think right now, I’m a better fighter, and I think I’m going to get it done.”
After he tallied his first UFC win, De Castro said he started to receive more notoriety, humorously recounting his experience the week after his fight when he attended the following week’s card in Boston.
Fans were coming up to him, and after the friendly encounters, De Castro tried to figure out whether he knew them until his wife reminded him he had just knocked someone out on television.
“I’m like, ‘Do I know these guys?’” De Castro said. “And my wife would say, ‘No, you don’t know them. You just fought on TV so they know you. Don’t pretend like you know them because you don’t.’”