Despite being home to some of the world’s most renowned MMA academies such as Chute Boxe, Nova União and Team Nogueira, Brazil is seen as a center of the sport that has hardly kept up with the times when it comes to cutting-edge technology and training structures.
This scenario makes some athletes choose to move abroad, and with Cláudia Gadelha, a strawweight contender who will face Karolina Kowalkiewicz next Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 212, the situation was no different. However, the case of Gadelha draws attention to a specific aspect: she doesn’t intend to return home.
In an interview with AG. Fight at the Windsor Barra Hotel where UFC Rio’s media day took place this Thursday, the Brazilian revealed that she intends to live in the United States even after her retirement. And to make her wish come true, Gadelha said that he is already trying to take the neccessary steps.
“I’m already working on it”, Gadelha said. “I have an extraordinary skills visa, and now I’m going to look for the green card as well. I don’t remember it exactly, but I have to renew [my current visa] every three years […]. The best fighters in the world are from Brazil but, as you said, the best fighters in the world are going to train out of the country because of the structure [in Brazil]. We have lots of potential here, but where are the academies, where is the technology to focus on recovery, to become a healthier athlete and to be able to do more things?”
“It is very difficult to do this because you don’t have the structure. If you are going to build a quality training center, you will spend a fortune. So, it’s best to move and do it somewhere else. I think Brazil has made many world champions simply because they have this mentality to work hard and never give up, but when you arrive at the highest level, the details will make the difference. And the details are technology, structure and what you make of that seperation.”
The desire to migrate to the United States caused the Brazilian to leave Nova União academy last year, a sudden change that was not appreciated by the team led by André Pederneiras. However, Gadelha shows the confidence of those who have made a tough but right decision and is satisfied with the results she has been getting since her move. Still, she also tries to make sure that there aren’t too many rifts between herself and her former teammates.
“We’re running into each other, right? I met [José] Aldo and Johnny [Eduardo]. There are some people who are still upset that I left Nova União, but in the end, I think everyone will understand very well what happened. It’s a game, we’re all making our living through the sport, but it’s going to end one day and what’s left are the friendships that we built together. More than ten years together and I don’t want to be envious of anyone. Those who don’t understand will understand in the future. I met Dedé, we greet each other but we don’t talk.”
Despite the change of scenery and somewhat of a grudge between herself and some former teammates, Gadelha insists that she remains focused on this Saturday’s fight. Despite recognizing her opponent’s abilities, though, the Brazilian feels like nothing in Kowalkiewicz’s game will surprise her come fight time. Even the intense fight she put up against champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk doesn’t change Gadelha’s perception of her upcoming foe.
“I don’t think she’s had a hard fight with Joanna. I think Joanna didn’t show any of her game, and Joanna was also changing camps before that fight and tried to do different things she had not done before. Karolina is a very tough fighter, she’s going forward all the time, but there will be no surprises with her game.”