With tremendous personal interest in the co-main event of UFC 211 last Saturday, Claudia Gadelha saw Joanna Jedrzejczyk maintain her UFC strawweight belt with a dominant decision victory over Jéssica Andrade. And knowing that Jedrzejczyk’s victory, who already beat her twice, makes another title shot in the near future unlikely for her, the Brazilian assured that she is in no hurry to get back to chasing the belt too soon anyway.
After her last fight against her Polish rival in July of last year, Gadelha moved to the US, opened up her own gym and moved her training base to the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. And it is from there that she seeks the motivation to become the best fighter she can be, no matter how long this process takes.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen from now on, I’m not thinking about it, but of course I want to be a UFC champion”, Gadelha told AG. Fight. “It’s the goal of my life. But I want more time to evolve and be even better. I’m improving every day to get there, without a doubt.”
The first step to reach her prime, according to the athlete herself, was to level up her physical preparation. Over the last rounds of the second encounter with the Polish champion, the pace of the fight seemed to significantly slow Gadelha down – something that she guarantees won’t happen anymore thanks to a specialized physical trainer.
“I’ve evolved in everything [since I’ve changed camps.] In the last few months, I’ve become a new fighter, with a different head, with a totally different game. I’ve improved everything I do: wrestling, jiu-jitsu, boxing. The physical part, which was my biggest deficiency. I hired a trainer here from a university, and that makes a difference. Training knowing that I will not get tired will leave me with a calm mind. The physical part was the one that improved the most.”
“It all depends on what you are looking for. If I had come with a closed mind thinking that I knew everything and did not open my mind to new things and methods of training, nothing would have changed. I think the difference comes from there, from wanting to change and learn. I came here with an open mind to try new things. There’s no use in wanting better results with the same procedures. I trained in the same camp for ten years and changed to have different results. And I’m getting them.”
With a fight set against Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 212 in June, another Polish fighter who has only been defeated by Jedrzejczyk in her MMA career, Gadelha could cement her status as the division’s top challenger once more in case of a victory. And it seems like her confidence for this fight is greater than ever.
“I think it’s going to be a great fight, we both have a strong heart, we go forward all the time, it’s our strongest point. It’s a hard fight, but technically, I think she is lacking.”