Diego Brandao - Photo Credit: Jorden Curran/MMA Plus

The Ultimate Fighter veteran Diego Brandao is back in action for the first time in over a year this Saturday, when he faces Murad Machaev on EFN: Fight Nights Global 58.

The event takes place in Makhachkala, Dagestan on January 28 and will serve as Brandao’s first bout since a January 2 loss to Brian Ortega

Diego (20-11) claims he is ‘ready to shine’ in the main event of Eurasia Fight Nights, which will be streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

“I am ready, 2017 will be my year. I spent 15 months far away from my family and friends to stay ready,” said Brandao, who moved from Brazil to train in Alberqurque, New Mexico at Jackson-Wink MMA. “It is similar to the days when I competed on The Ultimate Fighter, when I was alone for much time and beat everyone in the house.

“Machaev (20-1) isn’t the same level as the top guys like Brian Caraway, Dennis Bermudez, top UFC [guys] that I was fighting before. I’m staying alone from everyone because this is my style to be more confident and get the courage to fight.”

2016 was a rough year for the Brazilian, who was suspended following his UFC 195 loss, having tested positive for “Carboxy-THC.” The 29-year-old’s year went from bad to worse, when he was arrested for a ‘felony battery’ and was subsequently cut from the promotion.

Now – even with an expired passport – Brandao admits he has ultimate aspirations to return to the place where he carved his name; the UFC, but until then he is focused on EFN and the task at hand. 

“I am ready to shine. I want to go back to UFC but it is not my focus now. I am only focused on beating this guy, making another fight at Fight Nights to show the best performance because they doing amazing things me.

“All stuff, hotel and support here in Russia are magnificent. But after my deal [with the UFC] was finished, I am thankful to Fight Nights for everything they are doing for me. It’s not about money because we can have a life outside UFC, if you want, but to me, it is something about egocentrism.” ended Brandao.

Lightweight contest Machaev vs. Brandao headlines Fight Nights Global 58 from the Ali Aliev Sports Palace.