During that same five-year window between 2011 and 2014, Vieira added five more gold medals and two more silvers at the World Championships, with “Buchecha” again besting him in the absolute division.

He was in a rare class of grapplers for an extended period of time, and if he reached that level by attacking his fears head-on, now, he’s bringing the same approach to his career inside the Octagon, and he’s focused on reaching the same lofty heights.

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“What I do now is what I have been doing my whole career, since jiu-jitsu: I basically train harder and harder every day, so that I can continue to get better, and that fear helps me train even harder so that I can defeat that fear even easier,” explained Vieira, who earned a second-round submission victory over Oskar Piechota in his UFC debut, and carries a 7-0 record with a perfect finishing rate into his clash with Hernandez this weekend.

“I’m looking forward to achieving in MMA exactly what I had in jiu-jitsu — the same accomplishments of being a winner and a champion, and driving my career to be a top fighter in the UFC, just as I was in jiu-jitsu.”

Not that he needed it, but Vieira was graced with additional motivation shortly after his bout with Safarov when he and his wife welcomed their son, Benicio, into the world.

After reveling in the dad life for a few months during the spring, the unbeaten middleweight upstart was readying to return to action in October against Markus Perez when a rib injury forced him to withdraw from the contest, leaving him with just a single appearance in 2020.