At home in new division, Raoni Barcelos believes he’s coming in to be UFC bantamweight champ

LAS VEGAS – Raoni Barcelos had suffered his share of cuts and bruises in fights before, but nothing quite like the gash that Chris Gutierrez’s elbow opened above his right eye at this past Friday’s Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale.

Speaking to reporters with the help of an interpreter backstage at Pearl Theatre at The Palms in Las Vegas, Barcelos couldn’t tell the number of stitches the gash required. The Brazilian did know that it was quite a few, though, both internal and external. And we knew, from actually watching the bantamweight bout, that it was bloody.

It wasn’t a pretty sight and, presumably, it wasn’t a pleasant experience, either. But, considering its role in Barcelos’ (13-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) second-round submission win over Gutierrez (12-4-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), we’d say there was an upside to the gnarly cut.

“When I tasted the blood, when I felt that smell, I think it gave me more drive,” a duly stitched-up Barcelos said after the UFC Fight Pass-streamed preliminary card bout. “There, I became more aware of the fight. I had to get it to my strength, which is jiu-jitsu, wrestling and ground-and-pound. Because it was a dangerous opponent. He could have landed another one and perhaps I wouldn’t have been able to return to the fight due to the cut being so big.”

The bout was also a debut of sorts. Although Barcelos had already introduced himself to the octagon last July, finishing Kurt Holobaugh in the third round of their UFC Fight Night 133 bout, this was the Brazilian’s first time competing at bantamweight.

Featherweight had clearly been working out fine for Barcelos, a former RFA champion who had only one loss in a finish-rich career. But, if his enthusiasm is any indication, we might be able to see even more from the Brazilian in his new weight home.

“I think I found my right division,” Barcelos said. “I felt the strength – I was a little stronger against the fence, on the ground-and-pound, hitting strong. So I think I’m coming in to be champion of the 135-pound division.

“I know it takes time. It will happen in time, it won’t happen now. But every fight I do at 135 will be different than the other. This was one thing, the next one will already be entirely different than this one.”

To hear from Barcelos, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of TUF 28 Finale, check out the UFC Eventssection of the site.

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