During time away due to injury, Antonio Carlos Junior felt he lost his rhythm, and it showed against Ian Heinisch. Now, he’s back against Uriah Hall, with a proper camp behind him.
Vancouver, BC — Antonio Carlos Junior is in action at UFC Vancouver, matched up with flashy striker Uriah Hall. At least on paper (and let’s be fair, likely come fight night), it’s a classic grappler vs. striker pairing.
Carlos Junior will enter the fight off a decision loss to Ian Heinisch that snapped a five-fight win streak for ‘Shoe Face.’ Speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press at the UFC Vancouver media day, he looked back at the loss.
“We always learn in the losses. I changed a lot of things. I know the past year was pretty hard for me. I had an injury, I needed surgery,” he noted. During the year plus he was out of action, “I lost the rhythm,” he admitted.
“I got emotional from being back,” he continued. “My opponent made some mistakes. The headbutt and the opening grabbing the cage. That made me upset and spend a lot of unnecessary energy. I kind of lost the focus. I know I can’t do that anymore. Besides that, I changed some little things. I don’t change my game. I just make some things better and I feel really good now.”
As for opponent Hall, Carlos summed him up by saying that “he’s a great striker. He’s so fast and strong. I’m a BJJ world champion. I’ve improved a lot on my wrestling so it’s definitely going to be [striker vs. grappler].”
On Uriah Hall never being submitted, he added that “it doesn’t really matter. Look at Jack Marshman. He never got submitted before and I was the first one. It would be good for me to be the first to submit him.”
A big topic during fight week was Hall switching camps. For Antonio Carlos Junior, he’s not sure it’s a sign of weakness. “I don’t think it’s an answer. We’re always trying to improve, trying to learn new stuff. I think he wants to add some things to his game. I know a little bit about this camp in Dallas. This guy really works with your mind, makes you tough. Maybe that’s what he’s looking for.”
As for going toe-to-toe with Hall on the feet, the middleweight told Cageside Press that “I feel really good. I started training at a boxing camp with Junior [Dos Santos], I train a lot with him. He teaches me in the hardest way, beats me up. So I feel really comfortable. I feel so comfortable in the grappling that I’m always trying to bring it to that area. It’s very comfortable to me when we’re on the floor, when we’re in the clinch. I think I’m doing great in the striking. If you saw The Ultimate Fighter, I had two knockouts in the heavyweight division. I feel good.”
Watch the full UFC Vancouver media day scrum with Antonio Carlos Junior above for more on his fight with Hall, plus comments on controversial teammate Colby Covington!