UFC heavyweight Philipe Lins recalls leaving the sport at mom’s request

Philipe Lins (Bellator)

Philipe Lins scored his UFC debut a 29-28 in his favor against Andrei Arlovski, but lost a decision. | Bellator

Former Professional Fighters League heavyweight champion Philipe Lins enters the octagon to pursue his first UFC win against Tanner Boser on Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 12 in Las Vegas, and that comes two months before the 15th anniversary of his debut.

All that success — and a million-dollar check from the PFL — almost never happened, however, because “Monstro” followed his mother’s advice to walk away from such a “violent” sport back in 2006.

Lins made his in-ring debut a year before and quickly racked up a 4-0 record on the regional circuit in Brazil, including a pair of wins over future UFC fighter Antonio Mendes. Lins proved to be a promising prospect, but his mother Neide thought her 20-year-old son should follow a different career path.

“My mom didn’t like it, I went through some personal issues, and then I went back to school,” Lins told MMA Fighting. “I started working and doing other things, but that fire was still burning inside of me, that desire to be a fighter and compete.

“My mom didn’t like it. She accepts it now, she knows that’s how I make a living, this is my job. I quit studying when I started fighting, and my mom wanted me to get a job because I was paid so little in MMA, only 200 or 300 reais [37 to 55 dollars in today’s currency] per fight, and she saw no future in this. She wanted me to drop this life and go back to school.”

Lins got a job at his uncle’s car seat store to make some money, but kept training jiu-jitsu and boxing in his free time. When Anderson Silva knocked out Vitor Belfort with a front kick to the face and MMA went viral in Brazil, Lins started to feel that itch again. An offer to make his return to the rings came in 2011, and Lins instantly took it “and never stopped again.”

Neide’s mind only began to change when Lins signed his first contract with an international company years later, joining Bellator’s light heavyweight roster in 2014.

“I started getting paid in dollars, making more money, got married, and was able to provide a better life to my family,” Lins said. “That’s when she started to accept the fact that I was a MMA fighter, that this would be my career. But she still doesn’t watch my fights, she only knows the result [laughs].”

Neide texts Lins before every fight to wish him good luck and pray, “but I know that, deep in there, she’s still very apprehensive.”

Lins was 7-0 in MMA when he signed with Bellator in 2014, winning a couple more before tasting defeat for the first time. A pair of losses years later meant the end of his run with the promotion, but opened the doors for a chance inside the PFL cage.

Monstro moved up to heavyweight in 2018 and finished four opponents in five months to capture a belt and a seven-figure check, changing his family’s life for good — and catching the attention of the UFC.

His octagon debut didn’t go as planned, though, as Lins lost a unanimous decision to former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski in May. The American Top Team talent thought he did enough to beat “Pitbull” in rounds one and two, but decided to “turn the page” as soon as possible and agree to dance with Boser in Las Vegas.

“The best way [to avoid a close loss] is to finish a fight and leave no doubts, not leave it in the hands of the judges,” Lins said. “I’ve fixed a few details, a few mistakes I did in the Arlovski fight, and I believe we’ll put on a great fight.

“I’ve watched his last fights and I know he’s a striker, he likes to throw kicks and box, to move around. I like to stand and trade, but if I have the opportunity to take him down and score points or submit if he makes a mistake, I’ll try that, too. I like to put on exciting fights, and that’s what I’ll do in this fight. It’s going to be a fun fight to watch.”

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