Ismael Bonfim Felt Job Was On the Line at UFC 301

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — After a loss to Benoit Saint-Denis and having missed weight in November for his original date with Vinc Pichel, Ismael Bonfim knew he was on thin ice with the UFC heading into the promotion’s return to Rio on Saturday.

As it turns out, UFC 301 went Bonfim’s way, as the lightweight prospect came away with a decision win in the rescheduled bout with Pichel. It wasn’t flashy, wasn’t the explosive finish fans might have hoped for in a fight at home, but Bonfim knew the win mattered more than ever.

That, explained Bonfim following the fight, was “because I was coming off a loss against Benoit. Missed weight on the rescheduled fight, that’s why I just felt the responsibility. Because I thought I was in the bad books with the company, so I needed to get that off my shoulder. Just responsibility.”

“It was a strategic fight, everything worked out and I got the win.”

Yes, he later explained, he believed his job might even be on the line at UFC 301, despite having won his first fight in the promotion in a high-profile match-up with Terrance McKinney.

“Absolutely. I missed weight, I was coming out of a loss, and this is a company that everything happens very quickly. Things happen every day. Just after I missed weight and I lost the fight, I called my manager a couple weeks later just to see how we were. This fight, I didn’t want to play, take any risks. I just needed a win, because I could lose my job if I lost this fight tonight. Happy that I was able to get the win, and now move on.”

If there was any bad blood with Pichel after their UFC Sao Paulo date fell through last year, that now appears to be water under the bridge. And Ismael Bonfim understands Pichel’s ire in this case. Back in November, Pichel wound up turning down the bout due to the weight miss.

“He had every right to do that. He flew from another country, he hit weight, I missed weight, it was my fault, I own it,” said Bonfim. “But I think I would have accepted the fight, I wouldn’t just not accept the fight for just over a kilo, but he had every right to do, to say the things he said. But no, we’re good now.”

Watch the full UFC 301 post-fight press conference with Ismael Bonfim above.