Rickson Zenidim fights fellow Brazilian flyweight Andre Lima within the co-main occasion of Dana White’s Contender Collection in Las Vegas on Tuesday with a UFC contract on the road. It’s the end result of a longtime dream for a clan that has had fight operating by means of its veins for almost a century.
Within the early 1900s, Americo Zainedim fled Turkey to flee from struggle and set foot in Brazil together with his household to begin a brand new life. He and his spouse Alavina made a residing promoting low cost jewellery in Irati, a small city in Parana, however Americo determined to proceed the custom of competing in professional wrestling matches within the circus to earn extra cash. They’d 12 youngsters, who years later gave them greater than a dozen grandchildren. A long time have handed, and a few nonetheless preserve that combating custom alive.
“My father’s uncles took him to the circus to look at them compete in professional wrestling when he was a child,” Zenidim stated on MMA Combating’s Trocação Franca podcast. “It was professional wrestling, however issues at all times bought heated and ended up in actual brawls. My father grew up in that atmosphere and began coaching Muay Thai, kickboxing and taekwondo. It was vale tudo for actual, no guidelines.”
Rickson’s father Paulo Bueno moved to Ponta Grossa, 50 miles distant from Irati, to proceed his profession in circus professional wrestling, however added actual vale tudo fights to it. In complete, spanning from 1999 to 2022, “Paulao” competed in 36 sanctioned MMA fights, compiling a report of 25-10-1. Rickson stated his father’s loss to Marcelo Santos at Meca World Vale Tudo 6, by way of determination, modified the best way Paulo was seen within the struggle sphere.
“That’s how he created the Zenidim model,” Rickson stated. “You’ll be able to’t see an excessive amount of of this model however it makes use of a ton of counter assaults. His struggle with ‘Marcelao’, from Chute Boxe, for instance, you’ve got the opponent charging ahead the whole time and also you begin to defend, block and counter. [Santos’] face was fully deformed however individuals didn’t see [Bueno’s attacks] as a result of the opponent was dashing ahead. There’s video of his post-fight interview on YouTube, and the man with a deformed face gained towards my father. My father got here up with this model and the whole lot we do is targeted on MMA. My father had this imaginative and prescient and its been important to what we’re doing in MMA.”
Rickson, now 24 years outdated and 14-1 in MMA, has been doing exhibition matches since age 3, and jokes he’s been a fighter “from my mother’s womb.” His skilled MMA profession formally began in 2013, competing on his father’s promotion Paulao Combat in Ponta Grossa at 14. He signed a contract to struggle at Shooto Brazil a 12 months later, however the promotion cancelled the match after public backlash for signing a 15-year-old. Rickson stated related factor occurred with Jungle Combat, leaving him no choice however to compete within the regional circuit.
“They stated the occasion was going to air stay on TV and the community wouldn’t enable a teen combating,” Zenidim stated. “They held my profession again a bit bit, however it was good in a way that it gave me time to earn expertise within the regional scene. Totally different occasions. It will be not possible to try this as we speak, to struggle skilled at 14. Many individuals criticized us for beginning too early, however I used to be manner forward of everyone else as a result of I used to be combating older opponents and there was nobody left for me to struggle right here.”
Zenidim scored a dozen finishes as knowledgeable fighter with 10 first-round submissions to his credit score, and expects no straightforward match when he faces unbeaten Andre Lima (6-0) on the UFC APEX.
“I don’t prefer to go the space,” Zenidim stated. “I’m coming to struggle on the ft or on the bottom. My opponent comes from a boxing background and he’s excellent, I’ve watched a few of his fights, however he’s solely made his skilled MMA debut final 12 months and has six fights. I belief my coaching with my household. Our model shall be acknowledged worldwide on Oct. 10. I’m going after the end regardless of the place, and I’m popping out with the contract.”