The fight comes more than a decade after Prates came close to leaving MMA for good.
Prates joined the UFC after knocking out Mitch Ramirez on the promotion’s Contender Series in August 2023. With an extensive career in Muay Thai and kickboxing, Prates sees his tough road as proof that he’s meant to be under the bright lights in Las Vegas.
“There was a time when I tried to walk away from MMA and only fight kickboxing,” Prates said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast. “But MMA was always coming back to my life — and here I am now, fighting for the world’s biggest MMA promotion.”
Prates began training Muay Thai at age 15 in Sao Paulo with Vale Top Team, the same gym he frequents today. He made his MMA debut four years later.
Prates continued bouncing between MMA and striking matches for the next few years until he decided to move to Thailand after suffering his fourth loss in nine MMA bouts.
That’s when life took a wild turn.
“I fought a lot there, because we have no sponsors in Thailand, you have no other job, so all you have to do to pay rent and buy food is fight,” Prates said. “I think I have a total of 102 or 103 fights, but I can’t say for sure how many of those happened in Thailand or in Brazil. [Laughs.] I fought way more in Thailand, of course — Thailand, China, Dubai, Russia, around there. There was a year I did 25 fights in Asia, four a month in three different countries. It was cool, visiting new places and new people, new cultures.
“There were days I would wake up and run in the morning, and then go to the gym and my coach said, ‘Go home and rest, you’re fighting tonight.’ You needed the money to pay for stuff, and you never knew if you would get injured the next month and wouldn’t be able to fight again, so we always fought.”
Money was short at first, and the purses Prates received were enough to pay for his rent or groceries. Competing in China sometimes meant paychecks six times larger, he said, and life was slowly getting better. Living in Thailand felt like a constant vacation for Prates, with beautiful beaches, parties, and good training at Tiger Muay Thai and Phuket Fight Club, but Prates eventually decided to go back to Brazil.
After living in Thailand for six years, Prates now trains at VTT and Fighting Nerds. He has enough experience to ignore any pre-fight anxiety, and he feels that’s one of his advantages over other UFC up-and-comers.
“That’s a good fight,” Prates said of his UFC Vegas 86 matchup. “My manager Lucas [Lutkus] asked me of names I would like to fight in the UFC and I said Giles’ name, Santiago Ponzinibbio, Joaquin Buckley, because I like their fighting styles, they allow me to showcase my game.”