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Bethe Correia has ‘scores to settle’ with Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Former bantamweight title contender Bethe Correia promises to be a different fighter when she steps inside the Octagon Saturday.

Back in action eight months after a stunning loss to Ronda Rousey in Rio de Janeiro and taking on Raquel Pennington at UFC on FOX 19 in Tampa, Correia moved from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, to California to train at American Kickboxing Academy, and found out she wasn’t doing it right.

"I can call this a camp of discoveries for me," Correia told MMA Fighting. "I found out a lot about myself, my mistakes and flaws. I never knew that much about myself as I do now. It’s going to be a complete different Bethe Correia. I tried to fix my mistakes every day, things I didn’t see before. I have evolved a lot compared to my last fight."

Correia started training mixed martial arts in 2012, and needed only nine wins in three years to challenge Rousey for the UFC championship. "Pitbull" came up short at UFC 190, and feels that moving to the United States and training with some of the best in the world, including UFC champions Luke Rockhold and Daniel Cormier, will finally get her ready for the next level.

"It’s impossible not to evolve at AKA," she said. "It’s a gigantic gym, full of high-level athletes in all areas, with different mindsets. Watching how champions train, getting tips from all of them… I have evolved a lot being surrounded by so many different fighters.

"The energy is so strong you feel excited to learn and train hard. I feel like I have twice the knowledge I had before. I’m more confident on the ground, found openings in my striking. I’m more confident now. And what I’ve been through in my last fight made me a braver person."

Correia will have the opportunity to show her new game Saturday against "a warrior".

"Despite Raquel’s instability, she always puts on great fights," Correia said of Pennington, who holds a 6-5 MMA record with three wins in five UFC bouts. "She’s a warrior, and I’m sure we will do a great fight for the fans."

The title picture has changed a lot since Correia’s last fight. Rousey, who defeated the Brazilian in 34 seconds last August, lost her 135-pound belt to Holly Holm in November. Four months later, Miesha Tate was crowned the new champion after tapping Holm with a fifth-round rear-naked choke.

With Tate scheduled to defend her title against Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 and Rousey planning to return to action by the end of the year, Correia is confident that she will be fighting for the gold "soon".

"I only have one loss in my record and I’m always fighting aggressively," Correia said. "I became popular around the world, and many people want to see me fighting for the title again. I won’t stop. I have unfinished business with Ronda and Tate, but I’ll take one step at a time. I still have a lot to do. I want a title shot this year, and my next fight is really an opportunity to show and convince the world that I’m really good.

"I still want a rematch, a title fight. I’m in the mix," she continued. "Ronda’s loss showed the world that she’s not that super powerful person that people thought. I have a tough opponent ahead of me, but I want to be the champion. I believe I’ll be fighting for the belt again soon. I don’t think I went down in the rankings that much after my last loss that I need to fight many times to earn another title shot.

"I have scores to settle. I have unfinished business with Tate, too. She talked trash about me for a year. I want to do a great fight with Raquel, that’s my focus now, and then we’ll see what’s next. After my fight, we’ll see what happens in the UFC."

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