NICK Patterson knows he is potentially just two wins away from realising his life-long dream.
But not even the lure of a UFC contract will distract the 30-year-old in his quest to defeat Bernardo “Trekko” Magalhaes.
“This opens doors for big fights,” Patterson said of their main event bout at AFC8 on February 22.
“He’s a big name and it’s the biggest fight of my career. It’s fantastic to fight someone like this and his skill set matches up with me really well.
“It’s a fight that’s really good for me because the skills I have are really good for beating someone like him.
“Then I got another opportunity at Daniel Hooker if I win, and that’s what I want. I’m certain I can beat him, and as good as he is – it will be a very tough fight – I believe I can beat him.
“But I’m not looking past this fight. I’m looking at the person in front of me and if I look too far ahead, it could be costly.”
Patterson revealed it took him months to fully recover from a nasty rib injury sustained in the loss to Hooker in AFC6 in August last year – only his fourth career defeat.
“The muscle had torn off the bone right at the top of my abs, so it was a very strange injury,” Patterson said.
“When I was hit, I didn’t notice it straight away but I felt it not long after. I felt this pain when I moved and it was quiet sharp. And being a mover, I move a lot, it was very hard and I ended up copping too much abuse because it was less painful to get hit than it was to move out of the way.
“It was a few months before I got back into full training. I was hitting pads before at and kicking and kneeing the pads but I couldn’t grapple for a while either.”
Patterson had the match on points until the stoppage 34 seconds into Round 3.
“I was not getting hit at all and he landed a good shot that torn the muscle on the tip of my bottom rib,” he said.
“My physio said ‘if it was an inch each side, that wouldn’t have happened’. It was very lucky for him to land it where it landed and it was one of those things, if you heavy punches, kicks and knees, sometimes it can finish a fight.
“You can’t aim for something like that when someone is moving and I believe he got a bit lucky but he’s a really tough and resilient fighter.
“He took everything I had in the first round and he still pressed forward.”
Patterson, who runs his own gym in Cranbourne with his wife Leirosa, who is preparing for her debut cage fight in Brisbane a week before his bout, avenged his loss to Hooker with a Round 1 defeat of Rod Staader I’m AFC7.
Patterson scored victory by rear-naked choke 1.55 seconds in to improve his record to 12-4-1.
He had been training for another fight at welterweight – 77kg – before the bout with Magalhaes emerged.
“I was already training, but I have to lose a lot more weight now, ” Patterson said.
“In the end, I’ll have to lose 12kg, which is a huge amount for me because I’m an insulin dependent diabetic, so it is very hard with the training loads that I do.
“We’ll do it gradually. I’ve done it before, so I know what I’m in for. It is a little disadvantage but only if the overnight cut is too big.
“If it’s too big, it starts to impact the next day but I think we’ll have it down where it shouldn’t impact me too much and I’ll be bigger and stronger than him.”
Magalhaes is a BJJ Black Belt who has stepped out of the UFC.
He suffered defeats to Henry Martinez on the Johnson-McCall card in June 2012 and to Tim Means in the Sanchez-Ellenberger fight night in February of the same year.
Magalhaes was victorious in his recent bout against Sonny Brown in Proud Warriors Productions 5 and presents a challenge to Pattterson.
“He’s an experienced fighter and he’s had a lot of big fights in the UFC,” he said.
“He has a very similar record to me and he’s a really good ground fighter and I know he’s going to try and take me to the ground.
“So it hasn’t been the hardest fight to plan for because we know exactly what he’s going to try and do.
“He’s not going to stand and trade with me… he’d be silly to do that.”
Patterson admits he will be more comfortable if the fighters stay on their feet.
“He does the same thing every fight,” he said.
“We’ve watched them all, we’ve seen how he’s own and it’s all the same, relentless shots trying to go to ground.
“If he was to try and change the game plan and stand, it would be even better for me. That’s not his strength, it’s not what he’s good at and we’ve got a specific game plan for that.
“And I’m happy to go to the ground anyway. I just don’t want to be on the bottom. I want to be on top throwing punches and elbows.”
Patterson said he had preliminary discussions with the UFC about a career move and knows the importance of earning a ‘W’ later this month.
“The UFC have contacted me on email and said if I beat Trekko and have a win streak against quality opponents, I should get into the UFC,” Patterson said.
“That’s what it’s all about, getting to the big show. And fighting someone like Trekko, whose fought on the big show, is a big opportunity.
“He’s at that level, but I believe I am as well. This is an opportunity for me to prove that. And if I get on the UFC, I get a run at it. I’ll keep trying until I’m too old to cut it.”
Story by Alex Oates.