The man nicknamed “Rigatto” will enter the cage for the first time ever on Friday Night, 10 February, to square off against the “Jungle Cat” Muhammad Aiman. The bout will take place at the Stadium Negara in his opponent’s hometown of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“Fans can expect a great match-up,” the 36-year-old Brazilian bantamweight states. “I will be going for war, that is for sure. Fans can expect me to do my best out there.”
Aiman, a MIMMA Featherweight Champion who holds a 1-1 record, is one of the organization’s many promising young talents. The 22-year-old Malaysian has a strong boxing background, having won a few medals on the local level, and has been fine-tuning his game at Bali MMA.
“I believe he is a good striker, but I am not worried about that,” Novaes says of his rival. “In addition to his one pro win, he also has seven wins on the amateur level, so he is tough.”
Novaes may be stepping into the cage for the very first time, but he has over 20 years of experience on the mats. In addition to holding a third-degree black belt under Master Elcio Figueiredo, he is a silver medalist at the Brazilian Nationals and a three-time Sao Paolo State BJJ Champion.
He discovered the gentle art back in the 90s when he was a teenager. The South American watched the earliest MMA pay-per-view events and saw a pioneer use his submission expertise to win. Suddenly, he felt inspired.
“I was 15-years-old when I saw Royce Gracie fight in MMA,” he recalls. “That was a turning point for me. I signed up at a BJJ gym and started training.”
Being the only person in his household involved in martial arts could have been an issue for some, however Novaes’ family was happy, primarily because he was happy. Luckily for him, the support continued when he made the transition to MMA from BJJ, including a move to Singapore in order to take his training to a whole other level.
Novaes was teaching jiu-jitsu in Switzerland prior to relocating to the Lion City, and a few of his fellow Brazilian friends were able to help him land the gig at one of Asia’s premier training facilities, Evolve MMA.
“I owe my move to Teco Shinzato and Almiro Barros. Before coming to Singapore, I was teaching BJJ in Switzerland, and I could barely get by. I had to take on a second job,” he said.
“I was in Singapore on holiday to visit Teco and Almiro, and I was so attracted by Evolve MMA’s facilities. Thankfully, they helped me get the job [at Evolve] as a BJJ instructor.”
Novaes’ new home has some of the best fighters that not only Asia has to offer, but the world as well. Some of those include ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren, ONE Women’s Atomweight Champion Angela Lee, eight-time BJJ world champion Michelle Nicolini, and many more.
With his MMA debut set, the third-degree black belt has his hands full at each and every training session.
“I train with all the world champions, but most often with Alex Silva, Leandro “Brodinho” Issa, Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, and Yoddecha Sityodtong, as well as ONE superstar Amir Khan.”
Though many newcomers to the sport can experience quite a bit of nervousness when fighting for the first time, Novaes does not feel any anxiety or reservations. He feels self-assured in his abilities and plans to let his skills speak for himself when he battles Aiman on Friday Night, 10 February.
“For me, the hardest part is not the actual fight, but my preparations,” he says. “I am confident in that because I am working so hard in my training camp with Evolve MMA’s many world champions.