Ever since his days on 2008’s The Ultimate Fighter reality show, Phillipe “Super” Nover has always been in the mix of must-watch prospects.
[mks_dropcap style=”square” size=”52″ bg_color=”#1588db” txt_color=”#ffffff”]O[/mks_dropcap]n the show, UFC President Dana White even referred to Nover as a lighter version of then-welterweight champ Georges St.-Pierre, a flattering comparison to say the least.
The Fil-Am fighter has since fought in the TUF finale and made a name for himself in other promotions. Now back in the UFC following a successful comeback fight at UFC Manila in 2015, Nover believes that it’s finally his time to elevate himself to the next level.
He’ll get a chance to do so this weekend as he takes on the toughest test of his career so far: former No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter and former UFC bantamweight champ Renan Barao.
“Having Barao as an opponent is a step up in competition,” Nover tells Dojo Drifter. “He’s a former world champ and has so many fights. I trained extra extra hard for this, and it’s gonna show come Sept. 24th.”
This will no doubt be a tough test for the Fil-Am featherweight, with the added pressure of taking on Barao in his backyard in Brazil. However, Nover sees opportunities, not just obstacles, at UFC Brasilia.
“Barao obviously has a hometown advantage in Brazil, and coming here is a big step for me,” he says. “As a UFC fighter, I know I signed up to travel and I know at times I’ll be fighting in front of a crowd that will probably boo me. That’s fine with me. I like being the underdog.”
“I’m super excited about this fight,” adds Nover. “This is the kind of fight I believe I will shine most. This is a big opportunity, and I can’t wait to do my thing.”
A win over a big name in Barao would certainly catapult Nover from long-time prospect to a ranked contender. Time will tell if he can make that transition.
What Lies Ahead
While Nover is zeroed in on this weekend’s bout, there are two other upcoming cards that he can definitely see himself on, given how close they are to his heart.
The first is the UFC Fight Night Manila card, which will happen just three weeks after his UFC Brasilia bout. Should things go as planned in his next fight, then he’d be more than willing to jump on board the UFC Manila event.
“The UFC Manila card is just a few weeks [after UFC Brasilia], and to be honest, I thought I would be on that card. But this opportunity came by, and I had to jump on it,” he explains. “Who knows: Maybe I will come out of this fight on Sept 24th and get the chance to throw down on the Manila card.”
Another card that Nover is eying is the one that’ll be held in the city he grew up in and currently resides in: New York City.
UFC 205 is set for Madison Square Garden this November, and it’s bound to be a historic card. For 20 years, the sport had been banned in NYC up until mid-2016, when the ban was lifted, allowing the UFC to finally hold an event in the marquee city.
Nover, who also works in NYC as a nurse (aka “the toughest nurse you’ll ever meet”), says that’s he will no doubt be at the MSG Arena for this event, whether it be in the cage or in the stands.
“Even bigger for me would be the opportunity to fight at MSG,” he says. “I live in NY and have been on the legal struggle to approve MMA here for almost 10 years. I will definitely be there either way.”
They say that true greatness is seen when a fighter rises to the occasion rather than crumbles under the weight of the moment. Should Nover thrive under the pressure of UFC Brasilia, then it may start a domino effect that’ll forever change his career.
We’ll see if it is indeed “Super” Nover’s time to shine on September 24.
Photos by Cristian Buitron