MODESTAS BUKAUSKAS fights on enemy territory for the second time in nine months tonight.
The latest chapter of the Lithuanian-born Brit’s rise up the light-heavyweight ranks continues this evening at UFC Sao Paulo, where he’ll face undefeated Brazilian Vitor Petrinho.
Brazilian mixed martial arts fans are renowned for the hostile and intimidating atmospheres they create for fighters taking on one of their own.
The iconic chant of “Uh vai morrer” [You’re going to die] has rattled many a visiting fighter, something Bukauskas is all too aware of.
But the cauldron he’ll be walking into at the Ginasio do Ibirapuera won’t be half as intimidating as coming down the Love Lift during a 2019 appearance on Take Me Out.
He told SunSport: “I ain’t gonna lie to you, brother, but going down the lift on Take Me Out, I swear to God, that was the scariest thing I’ve done in my life.
“I literally just had to roll with it.”
Bukauskas – as he has been in his last two octagon outings – was successful on the axed ITV dating show.
The 29-year-old bagged himself a date with Shelly thanks to an acrobatic dance routine and a hilarious submission of host Paddy McGuinness.
But the former Cage Warrior’s 205lb champion struggles to watch clips of his young self trying to keep the single ladies’ lights on.
The Baltic Gladiator said: “When I look back at videos now and I see myself dancing, I’m like, ‘What was wrong with me?’
“I look at those moves – I promise you, I don’t pull those moves out when I go on a night out.
“No wonder after I did a couple of VTs that a couple of the girls turned their lights off. F**k me [laughs].”
So what’s scarier, trying to win a date with 30 single ladies or facing a hometown favourite in front of a raucous crowd baying for your blood?
Bukauskas said: “Genuinely, that was scarier than walking out in front of a hostile crowd.
“For me, I feel like very gladiator-esque. And even for Take Me Out, the thing that has a similarity, for me, is embracing the fear and the nerve-wracking environment.
“And embracing a very scary situation and being like, ‘F**k it, I’m gonna go out there with full energy.'”
Bukauskas’ clash with the undefeated Petrinho will be the third fight of his second stint in MMA’s top promotion.
Back-to-back wins over Lee Chadwick and Chuck Campbell – in which he claimed and defended the Cage Warriors’ light-heavyweight title – after recovering from a career-threatening injury earned Bukauskas a second shot at the big-time.
Bukauskas had plenty of time for reflection as he recovered from the horrific injury, which he used to adopt a new mindset inside and outside of the cage.
He said: “I always enter action with boldness. I don’t know whether you have read the 48 Laws of Power, but that’s one of them.
“And this is how I like to live my life now. Again, in my first run I kind of held back a bit. I didn’t enter my action with boldness.
“And this time, I’m trying to do it even more. I just go into everything with a completely different mindset.
“It doesn’t matter what the situation is, whether it be the crowd booing you or whatever, I just use it as energy.
“It’s serving me well and I’m looking forward to going out there and doing it again.”
Modestas Bukauskas takes on Vitor Petrino at UFC Fight Night: Almeida vs. Lewis on November 4th live on TNT Sports.