Titan FC lightweight champion Raush Manfio is set to defend his title against Lee Henry Lilly on Friday, Feb. 16 at Titan FC 48.
Manfio hopes that an impressive performance will grant him another opportunity with the UFC. The Brazilian fell short on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 4 where he was submitted by Glaico Franca. Manfio did not receive a call from the UFC, then was forced to ply his trade elsewhere.
He has since gone to Titan FC, went 4-1 and has won the promotion’s lightweight title. Manfio reflected on the vast improvements he’s made in that time.
“I feel prepared if I win to be part of the UFC,” he told MMASucka. “If you asked me the question three years ago, I would not be prepared to belong in the UFC. When fighting Franca, I realized I was not prepared. If the UFC contracted me then, after two or three fights they would fire me.”
Manfio said he’s improved his wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing and Muay Thai and feels confident that he can hold his own in the UFC.
The main catalyst of that improvement? Uprooting his life in Brazil to move to Florida after he was eliminated on The Ultimate Fighter, then joining an elite gym.
“I realized where I was training was not so good for me,” Manfio said. “I needed to move to another gym in another country. The political situation and financial situation [in Brazil] are very, very bad right now.”
“I need to improve conditions for my family to live in,” he continued. “If I stay in Brazil, I couldn’t pay my rent. It’s too much money. I want a better city, a better school for my son.”
The Move to American Top Team
The move has worked wonders, evidenced by the fact that he’s set to make his first title defense next week. He credits changing camps to American Top Team for the success.
“For me it’s a dream come true,” Manfio said of the move to ATT. “Everyday, I talk with guys who I see fight on TV. I train with them, help them and learn with them. It’s too important to me. They show me how to improve. I can help a lot of fighters like Dustin Poirier during his last camp. I feel so proud of myself because now I can help guys like this.”
Manfio said that training with Poirier and his other stablemates has made him a more technical fighter while maintaining his aggression. Not only that, but he’s added wrestling and ground and pound to his repertoire.
“I used to be just aggressive and strong, that’s it,” he said. “Now I have weapons.”
Manfio’s swift rise in MMA skills isn’t the only benefit of moving to Florida. He said that he, his wife and son love living there. Family is important to Manfio, which makes reaching the UFC even more crucial to him.
“I believe after one or two fights, if the UFC contacts me, I can pay for tickets to go and see my family in Brazil,” he said. “I want to see my mom. Sometimes she calls me crying.”
Beating Lilly is the next step for Manfio in his goals of reaching the UFC, and by extension, visiting his family.
“After a few minutes, I believe [Lilly] is going to fall,” he said. “I’m going to finish the fight before the middle of the second round. We don’t need the judges.”