Friday, January 23, 2009

"More mature" Diego Saraiva credits UFC failures for today's success

Originally posted on

Some people say life is defined by how you respond to setbacks rather than success.

For Palace Fighting Championship featherweight title challenger Diego Saraiva (12-8-1), a fall from the good graces of the world's biggest organization led "The Octopus" to reinvent himself.

"I'm more mature, a better athlete," Saraiva recently told ( "I was always an athlete; don't get me wrong. But now I'm really concentrating on my fighting."

Saraiva found himself on top of the world when he me made his debut as a lightweight at UFC 67 in February 2007. Seven months later, Saraiva had dropped three-straight decisions to Jeremy Stephens, Jorge Gurgel and Dustin Hazelett and found himself being described as a "former UFC fighter."

Despite the unsuccessful run in the UFC, Saraiva feels the time was vital to his career.

"I learned a lot," Saraiva said. "It's an incredible experience to fight in the UFC, that's for sure.

"They made me a way better fighter because I learned a lot from my losses. It made me train more, made me try to find my weaknesses and work on them, and to try and be a better fighter. It was a good experience, and I learned a lot."

One of the biggest lessons Saraiva learned is that he was small for a world-class lightweight fighter. Saraiva spent 2008 focusing on increased conditioning in preparation for a drop to 145 pounds.

"I always fought at 155 (pounds), but I usually walk around at about 165 (pounds) or so," Saraiva said. "I was a small 155-pound fighter. Now I think I'm going to be good at 145 pounds."

Thursday's title fight with PFC featherweight champ Jorge Evangelista at "PFC 12: High Stakes" in Lemoore, Calif., will mark Saraiva's first bout at 145 pounds. The 26-year-old said he feels good about his new frame.

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