Diego Lopes is not trying to get ahead of himself, but he does want to throw certain things out in the universe.
The UFC featherweight returns to the cage Nov. 11 at UFC 295, and he has a tough test in Pat Sabatini. Yet, despite having a date and opponent on the horizon, Lopes (22-6 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is not afraid to mention other names he’d like to face as he makes his way to the UFC featherweight title. He’s by no means underestimating Sabatini (18-4 MMA, 5-1 UFC), but he wants to let the world know he’s interested in fighting Bryce Mitchell down the line.
“I have a few names in the rankings that I want to fight,” Lopes told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “One of them, and I’ll mention him because I love that matchup, and that’s what I want, the toughest fights: A fight against Bryce Mitchell for me would be very good, and it would motivate me a lot. He’s a fighter that has good wrestling and jiu-jitsu. I want those type of fights. I want fights that bring out the best in me.”
Lopes is coming off a first-round submission win over Gavin Tucker in August. It was his first win in the octagon, as he had lost a decision to Movsar Evloev in his UFC debut – a fight he accepted the week of the event.
The Lobo Gym fighter hopes to get in the rankings with a win at UFC 295 and begin to target the ranked names like Mitchell.
“I plan to win my fight on Nov. 11 and hopefully get in the rankings,” Lopes explained. “I already checked the guys who are in the top 15, and a lot of these fighters are coming off losses. I’m not wishing bad on them, but maybe I can take someone’s spot in the rankings. Then, next year, do at least three fights minimum and against good, quality contenders and then towards the end of 2024 or early 2025 be considered as a title contender. That’s my plan.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 295.