Bethe Correia’s brilliant decision to target the Four Horsewomen after beating Jessamyn Duke earlier this year got her a fight with another Ronda Rousey’s teammate Shayna Baszler, and a second-round TKO victory made the UFC bantamweight champion ask to fight her.
"I’m really happy with my win and my performance. I pleased the crowd, and that’s what matters to me," Correia told MMAFighting.com after her win over Baszler at UFC 177 in Sacramento. "It was an exciting fight. I also pleased Dana White, he praised my performance, so I completed my mission. I wanted the knockout."
Correia’s third win under the UFC banner didn’t come easy, though, as she had to escape from Baszler’s ground game in the opening round.
"I knew she would try to grapple with me, and she made it pretty clear in the beginning of the fight," she said. "I didn’t do well in the beginning, and played her game, but I stayed calm and did what I do best in the second round: trade punches."
The Brazilian bantamweight improved to 9-0 in MMA with this win, and she felt she had to finish a fight to move up the rankings. Prior to UFC 177, "Pitbull" had only one finish in eight bouts, and going the distance doesn’t always impress.
"Every fighter wants a knockout. Everybody wants to win by knockout," she said. "Winning by decision is also good because you dominate someone for three rounds, and that’s impressive, but people give you more credit if you finish the fight by knockout or submission. I went there to finish her, and I did it. I wanted to knock Shayna out. This win, and the way I performed, was good to show the fans how much I have evolved.
"I needed this. I knew people would look at me as a great fighter with that. I needed this to get where I want, to get to the title. I’m confident. I’m ready to fight for the title. People see me with different eyes today, they see me as a top fighter today."
Rousey texted UFC president Dana White right after the bout, asking for a fight with Correia. White slowed down the talks, though.
"As soon as (Correia) started talking, she texted me and said, ‘I want that fight; I want it now,’" White said at the post-fight press conference. "’I want it before someone else beats her,’ and I said, ‘Calm down, lady. You've got other people to fight. We'll figure it out.’"
"I don’t know what Dana White’s plans are, but I respect his decision. He knows what he has to do. But the only thing I can say is I want to be the champion so bad," Correia responded. "I know I would give Ronda a great fight. I’m capable of beating Ronda. I know that."
"I’m one of the first women to sign with the UFC, I’m undefeated, and I have the right to ask for this opportunity," she continued. "I want the title fight. I challenge Ronda Rousey to end my invincibility, because she won’t. I’m the one who will retire as the undefeated UFC champion. My dream is to fight for the title. I want to show the whole world that I’m the UFC champion."