As Matheus Nicolau put it following his recent victory, he’s an “unemployed fighter” after completing his contract with the UFC, but he expects that to change very soon.
Nicolau picked up his sixth straight win — fourth consecutive victory in the UFC — with a second-round TKO of Matt Schnell at UFC Orlando this past Saturday. In his second stint with the promotion, Nicolau was able to bet on himself, and he feels his performance against Schnell will produce a satisfying return.
“There’s no reason [no to give me a new contract],” Nicolau said on The MMA Hour. “They just signed me back, gave me good fights, all fights where I could grow against [all ranked guys].
“UFC has been treating me good. They’ve given me opportunities to grow, and there’s no reason for them not to give me a deal right now.”
Prior to his win over Schnell, Nicolau picked up decision wins in the octagon over Manel Kape, Tim Elliott, and David Dvorak after returning to the promotion in 2021. The 29-year-old competed for the UFC between 2015 and 2018 after being a contestant on season four of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, winning his first three appearances before losing via first-round knockout to Dustin Ortiz at UFC on FOX 30.
After two wins outside of the UFC, Nicolau was given a second chance with the company, and following three straight victories in this run, Nicolau says entering the final fight on his deal without a new one in place was a UFC call.
“It was not my decision,” Nicolau said. “The UFC think it was the best decision for them [to not re-sign me before the fight] when talking about [business], and I had one more fight on my contract. They gave me this fight against Matt Schnell, which I’m thankful for the opportunity because I liked the fight. I like the way that Schnell challenged me, he was respectful, he just wanted to fight. He was not that trash talking bulls*** guy, he was a guy that has been one of the toughest in the division for years.
“I saw the fight as a good opportunity. I knew my game would do good against his. I just went to the fight, took the situation as an opportunity.”
There were a couple of similarities heading into this fight for Nicolau as there was for the July 2018 loss against Ortiz — one of which was competing on the fourth fight of a contract following three straight wins in hopes of sticking around with the promotion, while also having Keith Peterson as the assigned referee.
“I was really, really focused on just thinking about the fight,” Nicolau explained. “But, of course [I was thinking about it]. The last time I was out of the UFC, I was on a three-fight win streak going into the fourth fight [which I lost], but it was the same situation.
“The [ref] who was [refereeing] the fight [on Saturday] was the same from my loss against Dustin Ortiz. I just knew that in the locker room. When I saw it, I was like, ‘Damn, man. Again.’ But at the same time, one more opportunity to change my mind. There’s nothing to do, I did a really good job, we did really good work to get there. Everything was challenging to get there, and we did good.”