RIO DE JANEIRO -- For the first time in almost a decade, Claudia Gadelha will enter a MMA bout as a former Nova Uniao fighter.
Gadelha lost to UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk via unanimous decision back in July, and faces Cortney Casey at Sao Paulo’s UFC Fight Night 100 on Nov. 19. But right after losing to the champion, "Claudinha" decided to leave the Rio de Janeiro team.
Combate reported in September that Gadelha left Nova Uniao after an arguing with its leader Andre Pederneiras, but she denied the claims during a media day to promote her upcoming fight.
"My relationship with ‘Dede’ was always very professional," Gadelha said. "We were never big friends, big partners. And it continues the same way. If I have to deal with anything professional, I will call him or he will call me. Nothing big happened.
"I was looking for evolution, and evolution is here. Brazil is behind in some things, especially in sport. I want to get better, so I had to come here. But my relationship with ‘Dede’ continues the same, 100 percent professional."
Despite leaving the team, Gadelha hopes to still have her longtime coach Jair Lourenco in her corner in Sao Paulo.
"I think there’s still a bond with Nova Uniao because of my partnership with Jair," she said. "He’s someone I want by my side for the rest of my life. I left Nova Uniao, but Nova Uniao won’t leave me. I continue respecting the team. I’m trying to bring him here to watch my training because, if he’s going to corner me, he has to see my training. He doesn’t have much time now, so we’re taking a look at it, but I have to have him (in my corner), yes."
Fighting for the first time without representing Nova Uniao, Gadelha shared her first thoughts on training with different coaches and sparring partners.
"It was time to take a more relaxed camp, get more rest, to focus on the technical aspect," "Claudinha" explains. "We train a lot in Brazil, we seek evolution, but in a wrong way because we end up overtraining. It’s not even because of lack of information. The Brazilian people suffer so much he wants it so bad, so he trains too much. But sometimes that’s not the right thing. That’s the difference here. They know how to schedule the training, rest more. I can feel the difference in this area."
With an 0-2 record against the current UFC champion, Gadelha knows that she would have a bigger chance at getting another crack at the belt if Jedrzejczyk loses to someone else. And after another decision loss to the Polish striker, Gadelha says she’s trained too much ahead of the title fight.
"I never felt, in any training, what I felt in that fight," said the Brazilian. "My arms were heavy, I couldn’t fight anymore. Re-watching what happened, I exaggerated on my will to win. I did a 17-week camp, and that’s absurd. I felt like Wonder Woman, the most trained in the world for this fight, but sometimes training too much isn’t right. That’s what I’m learning, meeting new teams, other mindsets."
Gadelha is still ranked No. 1 in the strawweight division, but knows that she will only get another chance at the gold if she wins fights. Her first step is against Casey in Sao Paulo, and Gadelha was against this booking.
"I think it’s going to be a great fight. I think Casey has two ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses," Gadelha said. "She’s ranked No. 14, and that’s the reason why I didn’t want to accept this fight, but there were no other available at the moment, so I had to accept."
It wasn’t the best idea for her, but Gadelha is not underestimating Casey.
"She’s a big girl for the division, tall, strong, and knows a bit of everything," said the Brazilian. "She’s not a specialist in anything, but she knows a bit of everything. It’s going to be a good fight for the fans, they will watch a show. Let’s see if we can put on a show."