Cezar Ferreira and his family went through a scary situation in Florida in June 2018.
Weeks after scoring a first-round submission win over Karl Roberson at UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, “Mutante” was driving around Florida with his wife and kids when a car hit them from behind. The TUF Brazil 1 winner says he wasn’t 100 percent healthy when he fought and lost to Ian Heinisch in November, and the effects from the accident also forced him out of a fight with Tom Breese in March.
“I had a cervical herniated disc and that affected me,” Ferreira told MMA Fighting. “That happened in June 2018. This crazy guy was going 75 miles per hour and hit the back of my car. I was driving with my wife and kids and I got hurt bad. I had a hard time training for that fight in Argentina, and that’s why I cancelled the other fight earlier this year. This accident gave me kind of a permanent torticollis for a while.”
The decision defeat in November showed the Brazilian “there’s no easy fight in the UFC so you can’t go there if you’re not in your best.” After some forced time off, Ferreira returns to the eight-sided cage on Saturday night, facing Marvin Vettori at UFC Sacramento.
“A loss always pushes us back,” Ferreira said. “Ian was a tough fight and he was better that night. I’m focused on Vettori now. I’ve studied his game and have everything planned. It’s about going to California and beating him to get back to the winning column and climb the ranking.”
“He’s a complete fighter, a tough guy, but everyone I’ve fought throughout my career all these years is tough,” he continued. “The secret is being ready and neutralizing his game. He’s tough, but I’ve faced Jack Hermansson, Anthony Smith, and beat them all, so that doesn’t change a thing for me. It’s about imposing my game and getting the job done.”
Hermansson, now ranked No. 4 at middleweight, lost via second-round submission to Ferreira in 2016. Smith, No. 3-ranked light heavyweight, was defeated by Ferreira that year as well. Thiago Santos, who gave Jon Jones one of his toughest fights ever at UFC 239, tapped to the MMA Masters product in just 47 seconds in 2013.
For Ferreira, it shows he can hang with the best.
“I had many injuries throughout my career,” Ferreira said. “There was only one year in my career where I was able to fight three times (2016). I always had a fight and then a surgery. I had many injuries that slowed me down, but I went there and beat guys there are at the top today.
“The past is in the past, fact is they are at the top now and I’m still trying to earn my space, but it’s something I’ve done. I won’t live in the past, but at least I have a past. I know that I can go there, win this fight, and with one more win I’ll be back to the ranking again. I’m happy to be able to go there and do what I love.”
Vettori hasn’t fought since April 2018, when he lost a split decision to future champion Israel Adesanya. You might not rank him as high as the likes of Hermansson, Santos or Smith skill-wise, but “Mutante” won’t look past the Italian middleweight.
“I try to always see my next fight as my toughest,” Ferreira said. “I forget about the past and live in the present, and in my head right now he’s my toughest opponent ever. I don’t know how he’ll be that night, how this fight will play out, but I’m focused on unloading everything I got on him. He’s a tough guy, he went three rounds with the champion, and my goal is to go there and get a good win.”