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Juliana Lima ‘relieved’ to be removed from TUF 20

Esther Lin, Invicta FC

Juliana Lima makes her UFC debut earlier than she expected, and she’s happy about it.

The muay thai specialist, who left Invicta FC to be part of The Ultimate Fighter 20 season, was removed from the reality show and matched against undefeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk at Saturday’s UFC on FOX 12 in San Jose, Calif.

"Wow, thank God my time is finally coming," Lima told "I started to train hard when they told me I would be on The Ultimate Fighter. Then they said I wouldn’t make it, but that I should keep training because they would give me a fight instead.

"I decided to come here to the U.S. to train at Renzo Gracie’s gym and then with my master ‘Draculino’. I trained hard, and I’m ready."

TUF 20 will crown the first-ever UFC strawweight champion, but "Ju Thai" feels relieved to be out of the reality show.

"I’m actually relieved," she said. "I was sad because it was an opportunity to win the title, but I know I have four fights on my contract, and I have what it takes to get to the title. I honestly feel it was the best call because I’m not an easy person to live with and I would give them too much trouble [laughs].

"I was really tense with the idea of living with other girls, so it turned out to be great because I avoided the stress and having to control my weight, and I’m making my UFC debut on a big card. It’s wonderful."

The UFC decided to remove her from TUF 20 because she couldn’t speak English. That’s not true, though.

"They said I can’t speak English, but I do. I don’t have perfect English, but I can speak English," she explained. "But hey, that excuse was great because that’s what got me out of the house, so I’m ok with that. I didn’t care at all. I graduated in tourism, and I worked for six years in an agency, so I can speak English."

Lima needed her English when she found herself alone in the United States on fight week. Her coach Marcelo Uirapuru, who was traveling to San Jose from Minas Gerais, Brazil, was forced to delay his flight due to personal issues, and Lima had to find ways to train days before her first UFC fight.

Alexis Davis, who recently challenged Ronda Rousey for the UFC bantamweight championship, came to the rescue.

"My coach Uirapuru had to cancel his flight after his mother broke her leg and I was here all by myself, but Alexis Davis and her husband Flavio helped me a lot," she said. "They picked me at the hotel everyday to train. I sparred five rounds with her every day this week. They treated me like family, took me to their home and helped me. They are angels."

Lima sees Joanne Calderwood and Carla Esparza as the favorites to win the UFC strawweight title, but believes that she has what it takes to beat women in the UFC or TUF, including Claudia Gadelha, a fellow Brazilian who recently won the first-ever UFC strawweight bout.

"’Claudinha’ started in MMA earlier than me, she deserves to be in the UFC and is a tough (jiu-jitsu) black belt, but she’s not unbeatable," she said. "Let’s see how this title run goes. It’s going to be a good race."

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