With back-to-back wins, Ricardo Almeida seems to have finally hit his stride in the UFC.

Debuting in the organization more than eight years ago, the "Big Dog" would eventually leave the promotion with a subtle 1-2 record, losing to Matt Lindland and Andrei Semenov, before moving on to do bigger and better things in the land of the rising sun.

This Renzo Gracie protégé was able to compile an undefeated six-fight winning streak in Japan. Chief among his wins were Ryo Chonan, Ikuhisa Minowa, Nate Marquardt, and Kazuo Misaki, which propelled Almeida through the ranks of Pancrase, making him one of the best 185-pound fighters in the world.

Finally making a name for himself in a brief two-year span, Almeida would leave just as quickly, retiring for over four years before returning to the UFC.

He defeated The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 winner Kendall Grove at UFC 101 on Saturday night, but Almeida admits the Hawaiian's 6-foot-6 frame was an obstacle in and of itself.

"Kendall's a really tall guy. He offers problems for anyone who fights at middleweight."

Having recently told MMAWeekly.com that he'd like to drop down to the stacked welterweight division, the fight with Grove may have been the Gracie Black Belt's last at middleweight, looking to start a new chapter in the weight class dominated by current champion Georges. St Pierre.

"I felt pretty good in the first two rounds, even though I got caught with an arm bar, I think it was the second round; I just thought that I was too light," commented Almeida.

"Today I weighed 187 pounds before I left the hotel to come to fight and by the third round I definitely felt the size difference. I got a little bit tired.

"I feel like I showed a lot of takedowns, perhaps something I didn't show before. I'm pretty happy with my performance. I know that I need to go back and work on some things and keep getting better. I'm looking forward to my next fight, perhaps fighting at 170."

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