Lucas Barbosa had a 2-1 record in MMA when he decided to change things up and focus full-time in jiu-jitsu in 2012. After collecting dozens of major titles over the past decade, “Hulk” felt it was time to go back to the cage.
Set to headline Friday’s PFL Challenger Series in Orlando against Itso Babulaidze, Barbosa said on a recent episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocacao Franca that it took him a couple of weeks to get used to get punched in the face again, but now feels at home.
” I felt a little lost the first time, and had some timing issues. But after the first week, you begin to feel more comfortable,” Barbosa laughed. I like to exchange punches. After the first week .”
, I found it easier to do so.
Barbosa has beaten great grapplers in recent years like Leandro Lo, Yuri Simoes, Alan Finfou, Romulo Barral and Dillon Danis, but has also defeated high-level MMA fighters who had tried their luck in grappling tournaments, such as Gilbert Burns, Rafael Lovato Jr. and Vinny Magalhaes, plus a draw with Fabricio Werdum.
” I believe my jiu jitsu skill level is higher, but it will be completely different when you combine MMA with judo,” Barbosa stated. You have the distance and punches, so you know when it’s time to take the shot. I fought ‘Durinho’ but he was training with MMA guys. It’s different when you are focused on jiu jitsu daily, even though he was trained by Cyborg.
” I won’t claim I’m better because my opponents are way more skilled than I am in MMA. But it does give me confidence that I can gain positions [against them], and have an up-to-date grappling system against MMA fighters like them. If I get the chance to defeat them .”
, I believe I can do well in MMA.
Barbosa will face 2-0 welterweight Babulaidze at the Universal Studios in Orlando, and said MMA fighters are more complicated to grapple than the ones he’s used to facing in the jiu-jitsu circuit. That said, “Hulk” had plenty of confidence going into this new chapter of his combat sports career.
“‘Durinho’ kept doing jiu-jitsu when he transitioned to MMA and I wanna follow his footsteps,” he said. It’s an achievement I desire, to make my mark in MMA. After doing it in jiu jitsu. It’s easy to make money when you do well at your job. But it’s more about the personal drive to be a world champion in an organization such as the PFL .”