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Antonio Trocoli details insane journey before late-notice UFC Saudi Arabia fight with Shara Magomedov

UFC Fight Night: Whittaker v Aliskerov OfficialWeigh-in
Antonio Trocoli | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Antonio Trocoli made weight Friday for his UFC Saudi Arabia middleweight clash with Shara Magomedov and that alone is a big accomplishment considering he was in Miami the day before the weigh-ins when he got the call to replace Joilton Lutterbach.

Trocoli, who makes his first walk to the UFC cage this weekend in Riyadh, said in an interview with MMA Fighting that the rollercoaster started when Ikram Aliskerov withdrew from their fight at last week’s UFC show in Las Vegas, agreeing to take on Robert Whittaker on a weeks’ notice in the new main event in Saudi Arabia.

“Aliskerov himself came to me saying he was traveling to Saudi Arabia because he would fight Whittaker,” Trocoli said. “I was hopeful that they would find someone else to fight me, but it was nice that Uncle Dana [White] honored it and paid not only the show money, but also the win money.”

Trocoli said the UFC offered him a new fight on the Denver card on July 13, so he left Las Vegas on Saturday night and drove to California before flying to Miami to see his daughter. He planned on moving his camp to Denver, a city where he lived before in 2016, to adapt to the altitude to fight next month.

Trocoli returned to California on Wednesday and was having lunch with fellow UFC fighter Mackenzie Dern the next day when his phone rang. Tiki Ghosn, his manager, asked if he could make 205 pounds on Friday. Trocoli said yes, but Ghosn called a minute later asking if he could hit 185 pounds instead, with the same deadline, to replace Lutterbach.

“I had just finished lunch and an açaí bowl,” Trocoli said. “I got home and weighed in, and I was over 200 pounds. I weighed in again with no clothes on and I was 200 pounds. He told me to send Dana a video saying I would take the fight, and two minutes later he said, ‘Go to the airport now. It’s a 16-hour flight and [Saudi Arabia time zone] is 11 hours ahead of us, so you’ll land there for the weigh-ins.’”

Trocoli’s head coach was at the airport about to board his flight to Brazil and managed to change plans and follow him to Saudi Arabia. His other trainers weren’t so lucky, so Trocoli decided to invite Lutterbach and his boxing coach to be on his corner Saturday.

“I’ve never seen something like this in my life,” Trocoli said. “They suggested me try to start cutting weight on the airplane, running on the corridor. It’s insane. ‘We’ll get you a first-class seat and a sauna and you plug it there and start cutting weight.’ That’s crazy, brother.”

That plan didn’t go through, but Trocoli began waterloading during the flight and stopped eating or drinking water before landing in Turkey. Trocoli checked in at the Riyadh hotel at 2 a.m. local time, cutting 11 pounds before 5 a.m. The Brazilian fighter took a quick nap and woke up at 7:30, losing the remaining 2.2 pounds to step on the scale at 185.5 pounds.

“I had to make weight, brother,” Trocoli said. “First, it’s a commitment I made. Dana liked the fact that I took the fight and gave me a nice gift, and Shara, I know these Russians don’t accept weight misses. He had already turned down to fight me before. This fight was originally offered to me a month ago and he turned it down, and he say no on short notice now. The only way he wouldn’t fight me is if I had missed weight, so I came here to make weight whatever it took.”

Trocoli, who had his Dana White’s Contender Series win in 2019 overturned to a no-contest due to a drug test failure, stopped Reslley Isael in his most recent appearance in the Brazilian circuit to earn another shot in the UFC. Magomedov, 12-0 in MMA, is a big favorite Saturday after beating Bruno Silva via decision in his debut.

“This fight is magnificent,” Trocoli said. “It’s a good match-up because I like to trade and he likes to trade. He kicks a lot, but he doesn’t have a refined ground game like Aliskerov. … I approach fights round by round but always looking at the possibility of finishing him at all times. If he gives me an opening, I’ll catch him. I’ll knock him out. The UFC only has high-level fighters and it’s never an easy one, but if he gives me an opportunity, I’ll catch him.”

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