On June 7, 2008, in London, England, the crowd roared as Thiago Alves hit a flying knee that sent Matt Hughes to the mat. It was seamless, that second round. It showed what being a world-class fighter was all about. Some who watched looked on in shock, the word “Wow!” was uttered as Alves continued his streak against a former champion. For others, it would be a small taste of hard-hitting UFC action that they would never forget.

Gledison DeJesus fell into the latter category.

DeJesus (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

DeJesus (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“I have always done martial arts pretty much whole entire life,” DeJesus told The MMA Corner. “Once I got to the U.S., I kind of transitioned to mixed martial arts. I got to watch the UFC fight between Matt Hughes versus Thiago Alves. Thiago is one of the first [American Top Team] members that ever fought in the UFC that I liked, and ever since then I just got hooked.

“I just thought that I wanted to start doing kickboxing and boxing and see how everything worked out. I used to do jiu-jitsu as well. Pretty much I just fell in love with mixing everything together, and ever since then I haven’t looked back. I used to see the guys at the gym living that life, and I always wanted to experience that and see if I could take it as a career. School wasn’t a thing for me. So, mixed martial arts is something that I’ve loved, and I think that if I’m good and take the time to learn everything, then I can take it far.”

A big part of what makes up a fighter are their training partners and coaches. DeJesus is lucky enough to call American Top Team his home.

“American Top Team is literally the best gym in the world right now,” he exclaimed. “We have the top guys. When I started, we only had a few top guys. We have so many UFC fighters now. We have a lot of good guys there. There are so many quality fighters, and I would never leave the gym. It’s everything you need, all in one place.

“It’s motivating. You see the guys working hard at the gym and then you get to see them on live TV, so it definitely motivates you and makes you wanna go through what they go through and to also to be able to fight in the UFC one day. Waking up, I just wake up and say, ‘Man, these guys are there. You’ve gotta get your butt there, because one day it could happen to you as well.’”

A debut in the professional arena can mean many things for a fighter. Nerves and questions come hand-in-hand with what is about to take place. A win can see someone’s confidence skyrocket. After all the hard work, after taking so many years and dedicating it to their craft, they are finally a success. Equally, a loss the first time that someone steps foot inside the ring or cage can bring about its own questions.

“When I lost that fight [to Sebastian Angel], I lost motivation to actually come back and train. I had to work out if this was what I really wanted to do,” DeJesus revealed. “I always thought I was really good at the gym, and I thought that I really had to go back and look at what I did wrong. Ever since then, I have always been working on my techniques and work on not only being the guy that’s good in the gym, but also being good in the Octagon, and fighting period.”

DeJesus scores a takedown (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

DeJesus scores a takedown (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

After his first professional loss, DeJesus hasn’t had to taste defeat again. The 21-year-old currently sports a winning streak that he plans to increase over the course of the next 12 months.

“I have a three-fight streak right now,” he said. “Hopefully, I can continue this year. I have three more fights this year, and I hope to keep it going. I don’t want to feel what it’s like to lose again. That loss just gives me motivation to not get in the spot again. I know what it’s like to have a loss on my record, and I know I need to just work hard and work harder every day.”

With a little over a year-long period of inactivity, DeJesus makes his return to the cage for Fight Time Promotions on May 30. He meets Yvon Agenford in a rematch of a fight that ended in a split decision. DeJesus believes that he won the fight comfortably, and he plans to prove that is the case when the two lock horns once again.

“I haven’t fought since May 24 [2013], and it’s been about a year since my last fight,” DeJesus explained. “I am having a rematch with the guy that I fought at CFA. He wants a rematch because we had a split decision. He called me out and I needed a fight.

“I’m here to perform. I’ve gotten way better since the year has passed, and I think this time I can definitely knock him out in the first round. I’m looking for finishes now. Before, I was more trying to get the experience. I got that. I know what I need to do now, and I’m gonna finish the fight and I’m gonna make him wish he never called me out.”

It was the bright lights of the UFC that drew DeJesus to the sport of mixed martial arts. Through his hard work and dedication, and with the help of the world-class fighters of American Top Team, he too may get to experience those bright lights for himself. And like Thiago Alves was able to do for him, maybe he, too, will be able to inspire a new generation of fighters in finding a passion that will no doubt change their life.

Gleidson would like to thank American Top Team, Guardian Sports Management and Lemon Tree Cafe. Follow DeJesus on Twitter: @GleidsonMMA

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.