Congratulations for your UFC deal and debut. How was
the negotiation for you to finally enter the Octagon? We were negotiating for two weeks or so,
waiting for them to find an opponent. I said I’ll only really believe when the UFC announces it.
I’m very happy with this opportunity. Was it hard for them to find an opponent? Yes, it was hard. They were having trouble
because of the 140-pound catchweight because it’s not their weight or mine,
but I’m glad they made it. The catchweight was an issue
with the UFC or the opponents? It wasn’t hard with the UFC because I said after
my last fight that I wouldn’t be able to make 135. I said I would fight at my weight class
or maybe do a catchweight bout. But 135, I ruled it out already.
It wasn’t a problem. – Did they offer you for any other fighter before Leslie Smith?
– I think so. I think so. – You didn’t hear anything?
– No. But I believe so, because they said they were
having problems to find an opponent in the UFC. – Was Leslie Smith the first name they offered you?
– Yes. Some people have no option to choose, you have to accept. Your name was always rumored to be in the UFC.
How do you feel finally there? I still don’t believe it, honestly. I already knew the
fight would happen, but wasn’t announced yet. They announced it during my flight. I was happy.
The most important now is to fight in Curitiba, my city. It’s been 10 years since my last fight here.
Sometimes I think everything I’ve done was worth it. ‘Oh, why haven’t you fought in the UFC before?’
No, I think it had to be now. The right time, in Curitiba. There should be no UFC in Curitiba yet, It has to be
the first one, and I’m happy with this opportunity. The card is wonderful, lots of old training partners.
It’s going to be a great night on May 14. Where do you stand with Invicta FC? Are you in the UFC for good,
or you intend on coming back to defend your title? I already had a title defense booked for May,
and I was training to defend my belt there and the UFC works alongside with Invicta.
My contract is with the UFC. They have a partnership. Shannon roots for me, she gave me
this opportunity to fight in Invicta but wants to see me grow. I will still defend my belt. I don’t know
what will happen after this fight but I believe it will open a lot of doors
for me depending on the result and what I do in this fight. It depends
on me to put on a great fight. Making weight at 140 pounds, is that
a sign that you can make 135? No, I will stay at 140. 140 is the lowest I can go.
145 is the weight I fight, and I can do a catchweight. I don’t see myself cutting down to 135.
I see myself in catchweight bouts. – Have you ever made 140 before?
– Yes. I made that weight in training and in one fight. I fought before at 140, in my first fight
in the U.S. against Shayna Baszler. I didn’t have a team of nutritionist and
specific conditioning coach back then so I believe it’s going to be hard,
but not as hard as the first time. I believe it will be tough to cut weight, but you train more
when you have to lose weight, you get more motivated. If I have to be at 180 pounds tomorrow,
I won’t go out for a run now, I’ll run tomorrow. I have to make 140 pounds, so I will run now.
It motivates you to train more. I like when I have to cut weight for fights.
I don’t like to cut for 140 pounds, of course I like to fight at my weight, but I believe that it
forces the athlete to work harder, train harder. When you cut weight, you need more discipline. You’re in a unique position in the history of the UFC: they
signed you even though they don’t have your division. Do you think that shows your power, that the UFC accepted you in a
division that doesn’t even exist, so they can have you on their roster? I was fighting in Invicta when I had the
option to sign a contract with the UFC. We signed for seven rights, and I think
we have three or four left now. Invicta wasn’t doing many events and I like to fight.
If I’m not fighting MMA, I’m competing in muay thai. An athlete has to compete, has to survive.
That’s how you pay your bills, by fighting. I’m happy. That’s a sign that
they appreciate my work. After all the turbulence, it’s a sign that
they appreciate my work. It shows respect. If you defeat Smith and one more at 140 pounds,
do you believe they can finally create your division? They always said that the problem with my
division is that there are not many girls. But Invicta also has to find girls
to fight me. I think it’s growing. There are a lot of 155-pounders in
boxing that want to move to MMA. The moment is better in MMA than
in boxing, everybody’s watching it and many girls want to move
but can’t fight at 135 pounds. I believe that I have to be at 145
to open doors for those heavier girls. I’m at 140 now because these girls are not here,
but they are slowly coming, like it happened at 135. At 135, if you pay attention, it’s always the same
fighters, and most of them moved up from 125. I think Leslie used to fight at 125, Cat Zingano,
many others went from 125 to 135. Maybe they will get old and can’t make
weight anymore and go to 145, who knows. What do you know about your opponent?
Have you watched her fights? I’ve watched some of Leslie’s fights.
Not as an opponent, but as a spectator. I saw that she’s a good fighter,
a muay thai fighter, tough one. She has no fear in her fights,
she goes straight forward. I was happy when I heard that she
was going to be my opponent because she’s someone that you
can do the fight of the night with. She won’t hide. If you watch her
fights, you will notice that. She goes the distance, win or lose, and
that shows how much of a warrior she is. I’m happy with the opportunity
of fighting her here in Curitiba. This might be the perfect debut: fighting in a soccer stadium
in your hometown, in one of the biggest events ever. Sometimes I don’t even believe.
Everything I went through was worth it. Not that I won’t go through more situations,
but I believe it was the right moment. If you say ‘oh, you should have been in the
UFC before’, but no, this is the right moment. It’s in Curitiba, my hometown, in the first UFC here,
a wonderful card. I think I’m really blessed. It’s a tough card to do the fight of the night,
but it’s great for the Brazilians and an exciting fight for the curitibanos.
They will be there watching. Do you root for Coritiba, the soccer team? I was never much of a soccer person, but my brother always
rooted for Parana and I went to the stadium with him. But I’ve been in stadiums to watch
Atletico Paranaense and Coritiba, too. But that was in the past, when I was a teenager.
I don’t have a soccer team anymore. Dana White is your boss now, but you
have a bad relationship in the past. He’s made bad jokes about you,
and so did UFC commentator Joe Rogan. How is your relationship today? Is your relationship good
despite everything that has happened in the past? Actually, we were already working together before.
What I can say is that we have a business. It’s work, it’s work. I respect him as my
boss and he respects me as a fighter. I’ll go there to do my job, but won’t
go further than this. It’s business. About Joe Rogan, his comments were bad.
I don’t think I need to say anything people saw that his comments made no sense.
But I don’t keep anything inside of me. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody
can apologize. I think he did. You can do whatever you want. People saw what he did.
I don’t know, it’s about his conscience. We can share the same room and we won’t have
a problem, for sure. Respect above everything. What do you expect from Ronda’s return?
Do you think she can reclaim the belt or you don’t expect her to become champion every again? I think it’s hard for me to say she
won’t be champion again. You have to use everything that
happens in your career as an example. She lost, but it’s not over. She lost, but she can
come back, she can fight for the title again. I think she can’t give up. Giving up is bad for everyone.
I don’t have anything against Ronda. She made the sport grow more, even if she was talking
a lot about me. But I believe she helped the sport a lot. Maybe the sport wouldn’t be where it is if it wasn’t
for this American that did what she did for the sport. Everybody loses, it’s not the end of the world.
I hope she sees that. Sometimes we lose to see new things,
lessons as athlete or human being. I believe she can be champion again. I think so. Miesha is the champion now, it was
a great fight with Holly Holm. You don’t know what tomorrow brings, actually.
Holly won, and then Miesha won. It was a smart fight from Miesha, she was
losing the fight but made it in the end. I can’t say she will never make it.
Everybody can become champion. It’s a MMA fight, one day you’re the champion
and in the next day you’re not anymore. That’s why people love to watch MMA. The big question for years was when
Cris vs. Ronda would finally happen. Do you still want that, something personal,
or is it over because she lost? This fight never happened not because of me or the UFC,
but because of her. She didn’t want this fight. McGregor is an example of that. He’s the champion at 145,
but moved up. He wanted the fight. A fight depends on two fighters, both have to want it. I think this fight with Ronda never happened
because she never wanted it. When she finally say ‘I want to fight Cyborg, I will stop
talking and start to act’, I think this fight will happen. Fans want this fight, and what fans want is what
sells pay-per-views, and that’s what the UFC will do. I believe it never happened because of her.
But if she wants it, the fight will happen. – Do you still want that?
– I think so. I never choose opponents. I have to be ready to fight anyone, be well prepared
to do a great fight. Wins and losses are consequence. You’re making your UFC debut
months after Ronda lost the belt. Do you think that when she was at the top, the UFC didn’t
bring you because fans would ask for this fight even more? Maybe, maybe. If I was there, maybe they
would want to do the fight, or maybe not. It could be like Anderson Silva and St-Pierre, and even
with them fighting at the same time it never happened. They didn’t want a superfight, actually,
but McGregor opened the doors for superfights. I don’t remember if the UFC ever did
a superfight before. Did they? – They did, with St-Pierre and B.J. Penn.
– So, they did a few, once or twice. So McGregor opened their eyes, we can do superfights.
It’s a way of doing what fans want.