On a card loaded with UFC veterans, this is one fight that’s flying under the radar.
Before suffering back-to-back losses to Nate Maness and Josh Hill in 2018-19, Arnett, 36, put together a 12-fight win streak, dating all the way back to 2014, which landed him firmly on the radar of promotions such as UFC and Bellator.
After getting back in the win column earlier this year at FLA 1, Arnett said he believes a win over Souza could be enough to finally land him a contract on one of the bigger stages.
“Right now, with COVID, everyone’s getting signed, and I know I still have one run at this,” said Arnett in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I feel, with a win here, I should be picked up somewhere.”
Much like Arnett, Souza, 32, said he’s eager for the opportunity to shine on the big stage.
Souza said he’s grateful to have the opportunity to fight Arnett at an event that will boast some of the top talent the regional scene has to offer.
“I’m so happy for the opportunity to fight this guy and beat this guy because it is a big event,” said Souza in an interview with MMA Empire.
Arnett no stranger to tough competition
So far in his career, Arnett has faced and beaten some of the best bantamweights on the regional scene, including Johnny Bedford, Mike Hernandez, Darrick Minner, and Dimitri Waardenburg.
When comparing the level of competition he’s faced throughout his career to Souza’s, Arnett said his significant experience edge against elite-level competition will play a factor come fight night.
“On paper, we have the same amount of wins and close to the same amount of fights, but I have experience with A-class fighters that he hasn’t had yet, and that’s going to pay dividends Oct. 30,” said Arnett.
“I’ve been battle-tested, and I’m not saying anything can’t happen in a fight, but I have the experience in this one.”
Arnett’s last outing in the cage was a third round submission victory over Adam MacDougall at FLA 1 back in February.
Arnett said he was happy with the patience he demonstrated in that fight, which is something he’s looking to carry over into Friday night’s matchup.
“I stuck to my game-plan, and I was patient. That was my first third-round finish. I broke him down, weathered the early rush, and just did a really good job,” said Arnett.
“I believe, with my game-plan moving forward, we can do the same thing Oct. 30.”
Throughout his career, Arnett has been a proven finisher, with 14 of his 16 wins coming via stoppage.
Arnett said he expects his finishing prowess to continue to shine Friday night, and said he expects to put Souza away in the second or third round.
“Imagine tapping him? He’s never been tapped, he’s a black belt. There will be some areas where I’ll have the opportunities to see if I can tap him,” said Arnett.
“Imagine catching a submission real early and not even having to fight him? That would be brilliant; that would be awesome.”
Souza prepared for toughest test of career
Arnett is set to be Souza’s biggest test of his 19-fight career so far, both in experience and overall skill-set.
Souza said he’s looking to prove he’s ready for the jump up in competition Arnett poses, and said it’s a good opportunity to showcase his skills against the best.
“This is a good fight for me because he’s a good fighter and his record is good too,” said Souza.
“I think this is my moment. I will win this fight and then, next event, I will take more tough opponents too.”
Coming from a jiu-jitsu background, Souza said on the ground is where he’s at his best, which is confirmed by his 10 submission victories on his resume.
But although his greatest strength is on the mat, Souza said he’s equally confident in his ability to win the fight in the striking department.
“I come from jiu-jitsu and I like jiu-jitsu, but with MMA I like to strike too,” said Souza.
“I think if this guy wants to go to the floor, it’s good for me. But I’m ready for the fight to go anywhere, but the ground is easier for me.”
In 19 professional fights, Souza has gone to the judges scorecards on just four occasions, while Arnett has done so only twice.
With both he and Arnett’s knack for finishing fights, Souza said he doesn’t expect the judges will be needed for this one Friday night.
“I know I can TKO him and I know I can submit him. I don’t think this fight will go for the three rounds,” said Souza.
“I’d like to thank my team from Brazil, Bolivia Fusion Team, my family, my friends in Jaciara – Mato Grosso, my university in Bolivia, Franz Tamayo, my friends in Bolivia, and my sponsors (Unifranz, Brave, Agrovale, Passos, Essenza Beauty Spa, Shopping da Moda, Zegarra’s Factory, Suplementos Sport Nutrition, Ground Control, Armur Collection).” Follow Souza on social media: INSTAGRAM