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Whatever margin for error Daniel
Lacerda
once enjoyed likely disappeared in his
Ultimate Fighting Championship
debut, as he succumbed to elbows
and punches from Jeff Molina
in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 196 pairing on Oct.
23. Now, he gets a second chance to make a first impression.

Lacerda will look to bounce back from his second career setback
when he squares off with Francisco
Figueiredo
in the featured UFC
on ESPN 35
prelim this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
The 25-year-old seems to understand the precarious nature of his
position.

“My focus is only on Francisco,” Lacerda told Sherdog.com. “He’s
the reason I wake up every morning and train. My goal is to beat
him and show the UFC that I’m here to stay and that I’m going to be
champion. To make that happen, I have to beat Francisco.”

A former Jungle
Fight
champion, Figueiredo also finds himself on the rebound
following a unanimous decision loss to Malcolm
Gordon
at UFC on ESPN 26 in July. He has yet to emerge from the
shadow of his older brother: reigning UFC flyweight champion
Deiveson
Figueiredo
. Nevertheless, he has Lacerda’s full attention.

“He’s a good fighter,” Lacerda said. “He’s intelligent and
technical, but he makes mistakes, as do I. We’re working with
Francisco’s errors in mind, while being mindful of his good
qualities. We’re looking to improve what I already do well. We can
see that Francisco fights smart, looking to win by points, but I
believe that when he feels my pressure, he’ll change his game and
come after me, too.

“That’s how the fight will play out,” he added. “We’ll be in each
other’s danger zone. Whoever has the heavier hands will walk away
the winner. When he feels my hands, he’ll probably resort to
grappling. That’ll give me a chance to submit him, and if he
chooses to stand, then I’ll have to drop him.”

Lacerda will need to exorcise whatever residual demons remain from
his ill-fated encounter with Molina a little more than nine months
ago.

“I make no excuses,” he said. “Molina was better than me on that
particular night. He got the win, but I’ve identified my mistakes
and fixed what could be fixed.”

In addition to his customary work under trainer Andre Tadeu
with the ATS Team in Tres Rios, Brazil, Lacerda sought out the
expertise of former UFC heavyweight contender Pedro
Rizzo
.

“Pedro is an MMA and UFC legend,” he said. “This time, again,
you’ll be seeing a fighter who keeps moving forward. You can be
sure of that. I’m always chasing either a knockout or submission.
The only difference is that we’ll be doing it with more
intelligence and care.”

Lacerda has never suffered back-to-back losses and expects to
emerge from his confrontation with Figueiredo victorious,
rejuvenated and pointed towards a much brighter future.

“I’m going to give my best,” he said. “I’m working hard to be
champion. It’s going to happen at the right time.”


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