Two days after the announcement of her title fight with Ronda Rousey at UFC 190, Brazilian bantamweight Bethe Correia was involved in a street fight in Rio de Janeiro.
Correia was with her boyfriend Edelson Silva, who is also one of Anderson Silva’s boxing coaches, and her sister Suzana Correia at a hotel in Rio de Janeiro. They asked for a taxi to go out for dinner, but decided to eat at a restaurant across the street as soon as the taxi arrived.
The taxi driver, Cleonardo de Freitas Alves, wanted to charge them anyway, and that’s when everything started.
According to the UFC fighter, Alves threatened to grab a gun at the glove compartment and got into a fight with Edelson Silva. A video footage also shows Alves throwing a trash can at Silva, who tried to punch him several times.
The taxi driver called the police and they called Correia’s room looking for Silva, but also decided to take her to the police station. Correia says that they only took her after they found out she’s a UFC fighter.
"He wanted us to pay him five reais (approximately two dollars), and I gave him seven. But he kept asking Edelson for more money, saying we wasted his time," Correia told MMAFighting.com. "They started to argue and Edelson told him to f--k off, and that’s when the taxi driver left the car and started the fight with Edelson. They started to fight, to punch each other. My sister and I didn’t do anything.
"(Alves) said he would grab a gun at the glove compartment. When he said that, my sister went after him, but I pulled her away. I could have used all my martial art knowledge to stop him, but I didn’t want to fight. I was calm, but he was threatening us.
"The taxi driver didn’t even recognize me. When the police showed up, they wanted to take Edelson with him, but the hotel’s receptionist said ‘ah, that fighter over was also involved’, so they called my room and asked for me to go with them. The taxi driver didn’t recognize me, but now he wants to use this to become famous. Edelson was just protecting us. This is bulls--t. What would you do if a man says he’s grabbing a gun to threaten your family? Edelson was protecting us."
A few days later, Correia started to get death threats on her social media. In one of the messages, a man called Bruno Assuncao sent her photos of guns with a message "coward, son of a b---h. S--tty monkey. Punch me." In a second message, Assuncao said both Correia and Silva would be killed.
"I received a lot of threats, but I deleted everything because I didn’t want to pay attention to all this. But I saved this with the gun because he is disgusting," Correia said. "He wants to attack me because I’m at the best moment of my career. Unfortunately, that’s the price we pay for the fame. I don’t know what else he wants from me. I’m 30-year-old and I never fought in the street."
Correia will return to Rio de Janeiro in August, when she meets Rousey for the UFC women’s bantamweight title at the HSBC Arena.
"How am I going to trust taxi drivers now?" she asks. "They are so tight. I go to Rio all the time. The biggest moment of my career is going to be in Rio. I try not to pay attention to all this. I’m training hard and focused on winning this title."