GLORY Kickboxing vet Jhonata Diniz ready for ‘big names’ at heavyweight after UFC on ESPN 55 win

LAS VEGAS – Jhonata Diniz broke through Saturday at the UFC Apex, but is taking things step by step.

As he sat onstage for his UFC on ESPN 55 post-fight news conference, Diniz (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) glowed with a huge smile. He broke out his always-improving English to explain the moment of his first UFC victory.

“I feel great today,” Diniz told MMA Junkie and other reporters. “It’s the most special day of my life in my kickboxing and MMA career. I really, really am happy today. … We already knew he was trying to put me down, to work his grappling. But we trained a lot to defend him. I was sure that when we stayed up, I would knock him out.”

Diniz, 32, is a former GLORY Kickboxing combatant who transitioned into MMA in 2022. He earned a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2022 and picked up his first UFC win Saturday with a knockout of former NFL player Austen Lane (12-5 MMA, 0-2 UFC).

While he’s maintained a 100 percent knockout/TKO rate through seven professional outings, Diniz won’t let the statistics go to his head. He recognizes the difference between short-term and long-term goals.

“Of course, I want to fight with the big names,” Diniz said. “Why not? If I want to be the champion, I have to beat the best guys. Who is the best? Just bring the name. I don’t care against who (I fight). … I don’t think about (title fights) because I think it will all come at the right time for me. If the UFC says, ‘OK, you’re ready to fight for the title,’ I will be ready for this one. I have to trust them. I’m just an employee. If they say I’m ready, I will do this one. I don’t care about that.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 55.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie